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VOL. I. 












AS the series of tales and histories to be 
published under the title of the SAGA 
LIBRARY is addressed to the whole reading 
public, and not only to students of Scandinavian 
history, folk-lore, and language, the translators 
think it well to say a few words about Icelandic 
literature in general before dealing with the three 
stories contained in this volume. 

Although Iceland is a barren northern island, of 
savagely wild, though to the eye that sees, beauti- 
ful scenery, the inhabitants of it neither are nor 
were savages cut off from the spirit and energy 
of the great progressive races. They are, rather, 
a specially intellectual family of one of the most 
active of those races, to whom fate, which has de- 
prived them of so much, has allotted the honour- 
able task of preserving the record of the thoughts, 
the aspirations, and the imaginations of their earliest 
ancestors : their language, which they have kept 
scarcely altered since the thirteenth century, is 
akin to our own. Their ancient laws, of which 
they have full record, were nearly the same as 
those under which the freemen of Kent and Wessex 

vi Preface. 

lived, while the greatest of all Englishmen, Alfred, 
was yet above ground. 

Still more, while over the greater part of Europe 
at least, all knowledge of their historical past has 
faded from the memory of the people, and the last 
vestiges of their pre-historical memories are rapidly 
disappearing, in Iceland every homestead, one may 
almost say every field, has its well-remembered 
history, while the earlier folk-lore is embedded in 
that history, and no peasant, however poor his sur- 
roundings may be, is ignorant of the traditions of 
his country, or dull to them ; so that a journey in 
Iceland to the traveller read in its ancient litera- 
ture is a continual illustration, freely and eagerly 
offered, of the books which contain the intimate 
history of its ancient folk. 

Iceland has been peopled since the ninth century 
of our era by men of the Gothic branch of the great 
Teutonic race : the first settlers there were of the 
best families of Norway, men of bold and indepen- 
dent spirit, who could not brook what they deemed 
the oppression of the early form of feudality forced 
upon the free men of the tribes at the time when 
Harold Hair- fair was winning his way to the sole 
sovereignty of Norway. 

Defeated in a great battle off the coast of Nor- 
way, these men left their country with their families 
and household gods, taking with them as a matter 
of course, besides their religion, the legends, the 
customary law, and the language of their race. 
Those of them who made their way to Iceland 
found an uninhabited country there, so that all these 
ancestral possessions escaped the speedy oblitera- 

Preface. vii 

tion which befell them in the hands of (we must 
think) their less fortunate brethren who settled 
themselves in countries (Normandy, for instance) 
where they were but a handful amongst people of 
a more developed civilization, who had gained 
their position by passing through the mill of the 
Roman tyranny. 

The race of which these warlike exiles formed a 
specially noble part had an inborn genius for poetry 
and the dramatic presentation of events ; and their 
language, probably as a consequence, had great 
capacities for the expression of action ; but these 
essentials for the task above-mentioned were doubt- 
less quickened amongst the settlers in Iceland by 
the energy which the struggle for life in a rough 
climate and barren land forced upon brave and 
generous, if somewhat masterful men, and the long 
rest of the northern winter gave them the oppor- 
tunity of leisure for the development of their his- 
torical gifts. 

Under these conditions it was but natural that 
the freemen of Iceland should have retained the 
memory of the mythology and hero-tales of the 
Gothic tribes ; but, moreover, the poetic life and 
instinct which made Iceland the treasure-house of 
the mythology of the whole Teutonic race, did not 
stop there. The dwellers in Iceland had still abun- 
dant intercourse with the mother-country in various 
ways, as also with other lands in the north of 
Europe, including the British isles. There was 
carrying of wares backward and forward ; and it 
was a kind of custom for young men of the great 
families to follow their fortunes and make a repu- 

viii Preface. 

tation by blended huckstering and sea- roving about 
the shores of the Baltic, and the British seas. The 
Scandinavians established a semi-independent king- 
dom in Northumbria ; names of English places and 
words in our language still testify to their dealings 
with our forefathers throughout the country. The 
Orkneys and Shetlands, and the Faroes were settled 
by them ; they established a Norse kingdom in Man, 
the constitution of which, as far as local affairs go, 
is still little altered. Dublin also was a Scandi- 
navian kingdom, and they had other settlements 
elsewhere in Erin. The Icelanders sailed west 
and made settlements in Greenland, which still 
retains the euphemistic name which, we are told, 
the first settler gave it of set purpose. Thence 
they stumbled on the coast of North America, 
which they knew under the name of Vineland the 
Good nearly five centuries before the voyage of 
Columbus. They took warlike and literary ser- 
vice, not only with the kings and earls of Scandi- 
navian countries, or with the English kings, but 
even with the Greek emperor at Constantinople, 
where, with their kinsmen of Norway, they formed 
the mass of the Varangian (say Vaering) guard, 
which was the backbone of the sovereignty of the 

Amidst this restless life, the deeds which they 
did and witnessed, the histories and traditions which 
they heard, cried on them for record, and not in 
vain ; for the Icelanders became the historians of 
the mainland of Scandinavia, which but for them 
would have had no record of its early epoch. 

But, furthermore, Iceland itself gave them abun- 

Preface. ix 

dant materials for the exercise of their historical 
faculty. Their fierce independence and their indivi- 
duality of character, from which sprang so many 
strange and stirring stories, they shared perhaps with 
other folks living under early forms of society ; yet, 
if they were not somewhat pre-eminent herein, their 
case is a strong example of the advantage of not 
" lacking a sacred poet." 

Their customary law also, which (once more as 
with other early peoples) made vengeance for in- 
juries not a mere satisfaction of private passion, 
but a public duty owing to the tribe or family by 
no means to be neglected by a man of honour, 
bred a plentiful crop of feuds and tragedies, which 
such men could neither forget nor avoid recording. 
Accordingly, most of these events have been re- 
corded, and very many of these records have in one 
form or other escaped the waste of time ; they have 
come down to us told in abundant detail and in the 
most dramatic manner ; and, as hinted above, are 
to this day household words with the whole popu- 
lation of the island. 

The fact that the Icelandic historians and tale- 
tellers were cut off from the influence of the older 
literature of Europe, was, we think, a piece of good 
luck to them rather than a misfortune. For the 
result was that, when the oral traditions and his- 
tories came to be written down, and had to receive 
literary form, the writers had to create that form for 
themselves, and thereby escaped the meshes of the 
classical Latin pedantry which so grievously en- 
cumbers the mediaeval literature of the rest of 
Europe, even in early times a pedantry which 

x Preface. 

would be unendurable if it were not that the 
mediaeval writers misconceived it, and made 
something else of it than was originally in- 
tended ; since they saw it through the medium 
of feudal Christianity, and in this guise handed it 
down to us. 

With the Icelandic stories, on the other hand, 
the life and feeling of the original traditions are 
in the main preserved intact ; the literary style 
which they have received does not encumber or 
falsify them, but serves them as a vehicle of ex- 
pression, so that they have become capable of being 
understood outside the narrow limits of the family 
or district where the events told of happened, or 
were imagined to have happened. The literature 
in which they are enshrined has taken them out of 
the category of mere parish records, and made them 
valuable to the world at large. For not only is the 
style of the ancient Icelandic literature a fitting 
vehicle for the still more ancient traditions, but it 
is in itself most excellent. It may be said, indeed, 
that the imagined stories of the lives of a few 
obscure chieftains of the furthest North are of little 
importance ; yet, after all, the impression that 
dramatic events make upon us is not measured by 
the mere count of heads of those who took part in 
them. /, thou, and the other one, with some small 
sympathetic audience to act before, are enough to 
make a drama, as Greek tragedy knew. Only the 
actors must be alive, and convince us (as a recent 
critic says) that they are so. For this quality the 
Icelandic Sagas are super-eminent ; granted the de- 
sirability of telling what they tell, the method of 

Preface. xi 

telling it is the best possible. Realism is the one 
rule of the Saga-man : no detail is spared in im- 
pressing the reader with a sense of the reality of 
the event ; but no word is wasted in the process of 
giving the detail. There is nothing didactic and 
nothing rhetorical in these stories ; the reader is 
left to make his own commentary on the events, 
and to divine the motives and feelings of the actors 
in them without any help from the tale-teller. In 
short, the simplest and purest form of epical narra- 
tion is the style of these works. 

Icelandic original mediaeval literature may be 
divided by its subjects much as follows : 

i st. Mythology, as set forth chiefly in the two 
Eddas, the Poetic and the Prose Edda, though 
much information on the subject is scattered up and 
down other works. 

2nd. Romances founded on the mythology ; of 
these the Volsunga Saga is the most striking 

3rd. The histories of events foreign to Iceland, 
the chief work of which is the collection of " King- 
Stories," familiarly called the Heimskringla. 

4th. The histories of Icelandic worthies, their 
families, feuds, etc. These form the great mass of 
the literature, and are in some respects the most 
important, as being most characteristic and un- 
exampled. The present volume offers three note- 
worthy examples of these stories, and our Library 
will include all the most important of them. 

5th. Mere fictions which, on account of their 

xii Preface. 

confessedly unhistorical character, are looked upon 
with little favour by the Icelanders themselves. 
It is a matter of course that they are of later date 
than the historical tales. It must, however, be said 
of some of them (as notably the story of Viglund the 
Fair, included in the Saga Library), that they are of 
high literary merit. 

There are other important works that do not 
come within the scope of the Saga Library ; of 
these are the Sturlunga Saga, the Bishops' Sagas, 
the Annals, religious poems like the Lilja, 1 codes 
of law like Gragas, and translations of mediaeval 
romances ; some of which latter are of much inte- 
rest in elucidating the literary history of these 

We now proceed to a few explanations on the 
history of the three Sagas in this volume, and first 
of the Story of Howard the Halt. 

favourite in Iceland, and was well known even to 
the authors of Landnamabok, 2 as our references 
to that work will show. It rests throughout on an 
historical basis. But it has suffered greatly in his- 
torical accuracy during the course of transmission, 
from the tellers' want of familiarity both with the 
topographical features of scenes where the events 

1 Translated by Eirfkr Magnusson. London, 1870. 

a The book of land-takings or settlings, originally written 
by Ari the Learned and Kolskegg the Learned, which, together 
with the Islendingabdk, forms the earliest authoritative historical 
Icelandic record, and dates from the twelfth century. 

Preface, xiii 

took place out of which the saga grew, and with 
the genealogical lore of the West-country. The 
reason is obvious. The hero moved immediately 
after his victory over his enemies far away to the 
North-country, and settled in Svarfadardale on the 
northern side of Eyiafiord, towards the mouth of it, 
and dying not long afterwards, the memory of his 
life's deeds had to be cultivated, as it were, in a 
foreign soil. No doubt the saga, as first told by 
Thorhall, Howard's kinsman, was correct enough 
in its details. But passing into oral tradition so 
far away from the scenes where it had been enacted, 
the tellers of it had no opportunity of correcting 
themselves by personal observation of its locality, 
and rarely, if ever, met with those who were able 
authoritatively to check historical or topographical 
mistakes. Hence its many inaccuracies. 

The Landnamabok, pp. 145-7, has preserved a 
fragment of the saga in its older and purer state, 
and, as it is a very important record, we insert it 
here : 

" Liot the Sage dwelt at Ingialdsand; he was 
the son of Thorgrim the son of Hardref, but his 
mother was Rannveig, daughter of Earl Griotgarth 
(Stonewall). Thorgrim Gagar (Dog) was the son 
of Liot. Halldis, the sister of Liot, was married 
to Thorbiorn Thiodrekson, but Ospak Osvifson 
seized (took away from home) another sister of 
Liot, called Asdis, for which case Liot had the law 
of Ospak, and got him fined. The son of Ospak 
and Asdis was called Wolf, whom Liot brought up. 
Grim Kogr (Bantling) dwelt at Brent ; his sons 
were Sigurd and Thorkel, little men and small. 

xiv Preface. 

Thorarin was the name of a foster-son of Liot. 
Liot bought slaughtered meat from Grim for twenty 
hundreds (of ells), and paid him with the use of a 
brook that flowed between their lands, which was 
called Mischief. Grim turned it into his meadow 
and dug (at the same time) the land of Liot, for 
which he held Grim guilty of trespass, and so they 
had but few dealings together. Liot took in a 
Norwegian who had come out to Vadil, and he fell 
in love with Asdis. Guest Oddleifsson came to Liot, 
bidden to an autumn feast. Then there came Egil 
the son of Valastein, and prayed Guest for a good 
counsel that his father might be relieved from the 
agony of death which he bore for his son Ogmund. 
Guest then composed the beginning of Ogmund's 
drapa. Liot asked Guest what sort of a man Thor- 
grim Gagar would turn out. Guest said his foster- 
son Thorarin would be the more renowned of the 
two, but bade Thorarin take heed lest the hair that 
lay on his tongue should twine around his head. 
Herein Liot deemed himself slighted, and asked 
the next morning what lay in store for Thorgrim. 
Guest said that Wolf, his sister's son, would be the 
more famed of the two. Then was Liot wroth, 
yet rode with Guest to see him off, and asked : 
' What will be the cause of my death ? ' Guest 
said he might not see his fate, but bade him see 
that he stood well with his neighbours. Asked 
Liot : ' What ? will the earth-lice, the sons of Grim 
Kogr (Bantling), be my bane then ? ' ' Hard bites 
a hungry louse,' quoth Guest. ' Where will that 
be ? ' quoth Liot. ' Hard by,' said Guest. The 
Norwegian rode with Guest up on to the heath, 

Preface. xv 

and steadied Guest in his saddle when his horse 
stumbled under him. Then said Guest : ' Good- 
hap sought thee now, soon another will ; take heed 
lest it be an unhap to thee.' The Norwegian 
found a buried treasure as he fared back home, and 
took to himself twenty pennies thereof, hoping that 
he might find the rest later, but when he sought 
therefor he found it not ; but Liot caught him while 
he was a-digging for it, and fined him in three hun- 
dreds for every penny. That autumn was slain 
Thorbiorn Thiodrekson. In the spring Liot sat 
watching his slaves from a certain hill-rise ; he had 
on him a cloak the hood of which was laced round 
his neck, and on which there was only one sleeve. 
The sons of Bantling rushed upon the hill and 
hewed at him both at once, whereupon Thorkel 
bundled the hood over his head. Liot bade them 
behave in a neighbourly manner, and they trundled 
off the hill unto the road which Guest had ridden. 
There was the death of Liot. The sons of Grim 
went to Howard the Halt. Eyolf the Gray and 
Steingrim his son gave them all quarters." 

Here Liot, the sage of Ingialdsand, one of the 
noblest men of the land in his time, takes in real 
history the place of the fictitious Holmgang Liot 
of Redsand of our saga ; while equally correctly 
the part given to Steinthor of Ere in the saga is 
here ascribed to Eyolf the Gray of Otterdale and 
to his son Steingrim, who must have had the most 
to do with helping Howard in his straits, as by 
that time Eyolf his father was very far advanced 
in years, as we shall see presently, when we come 
to consider the chronology of Howard's saga. 

xvi Preface. 

Steinthor of Ere, living far away on the southern 
shore of Broadbay, and bearing no sway among 
the men of Codfirth-Thing ( Icefirth), could have had 
nothing to do with the sheltering of Howard after 
the slaughter of Thorbiorn Thiodrekson. 

Now, in order to gain a clear idea of the locality 
of Howard's saga, the simplest way is to enumerate 
the landnam or first settlements round the Icefirth 
basin, beginning with the westernmost on the 
southern side. 

I. The land-take or settlement of Eyvind Knee. 
" Eyvind Knee went from Agdir to Iceland 

and with him his wife Thurid Bedsow. 
They settled Swanfirth and Seydisfirth and 
dwelt there. A son of theirs was Thorleif 
and another Valbrand, the father of Hall- 
grim and Gunnar and Biargey the wife of 
Howard the Halt, whose son was Olaf." 
(Landnamabok, p. 148.) 

II. Next to this, east of it, was the settlement 
of Vebiorn Sygnakappi between Horsefirth and 
Skatefirth. With this our saga has nothing to do. 

III. The settlement of the sons of Gunnbiorn 
(next eastward of the preceding). 

" Gunnstein and Halldor were hight two sons 
of Gunnbiorn the son of Wolf the Crow, 
from whom Gunnbiorn's Skerries are named ; 
they settled Skatefirth and Bathdale and 
Ogrwick all the way to Narrowbay. A son 
of Halldor's was Bersi the father of Thor- 
mod Coalbrowscald. 1 There in Bathdale 

1 One of the heroes of the Foster-brothers' Saga ; slain by 
the side of King Olaf the Saint at the fatal battle of Stikla-Stead. 

Preface. xvii 

dwelt afterwards Thorbiorn Thiodrekson, 
who slew Olaf the son of Howard the Halt 
and Biargey the daughter of Valbrand ; 
whence arose the saga of the Icefirthers 
and the slaughter of Thorbiorn." (Ldb. 

IV. The settlement of Snaebiorn (next eastward 
of the preceding). 

" Snaebiorn, the son of Eyvind the Eastman, 
brother to Helgi the Lean, settled the land 
between Narrow-bay and Longdale-river 
and dwelt in Waterfirth. His son was 
Holmstein, the father of Snaebiorn Gait." 
(Ldb. 150-51.) 

V. The settlement of Olaf Evenpate (Jafnakollr) 
(continuation of preceding westward on the northern 
shore of Icefirth). 

" Olaf Evenpate settled the land from Long- 
dale-river unto Sandere-river and dwelt in 
Pleasuredale (Una'Ssdalr) ; he had for wife 
Thora, daughter of Gunnstein ; their son 
was Grimolf, who married Vedis, the sister 
of Vebiorn." (Ldb. 155.) 

The principal homestead in Bathdale is still 
Bathstead, and the farm of Bluemere (now called 
Blamyrar) is still standing. The saga is therefore 
reliable in this respect. Howard thus dwelt within 
the settlement which originally belonged to Gunn- 
stein, Olaf Evenpate's father-in-law, and no doubt 
still belonged to his descendants when Howard set 
up house at Bluemere. But in his days a sudden 
change came over the fortunes of Gunnstein's 


xviii Preface. 

Thorbiorn's grandfather, Sl^ttu-Biorn, a late 
settler in Skagafiord, had, by the advice of his 
father-in-law, Steinolf the Short, who had settled in 
Saurby west away in the Dales, moved away from 
Skagafiord, and set up house in Steinolfs close 
neighbourhood. But his son Thiodrek " deemed 
himself too narrow-landed in Saurby, so he betook 
himself to Icefirth, and there befell the saga of 
Thorbiorn and Howard the Halt" (Ldb. 126-7). 
It deserves a passing notice that Thorbiorn was 
among the highest descended men in Iceland of his 
time ; the Landnamab6k (p. 195) gives the follow- 
ing account of the pedigree : " Gorm hight an ex- 
cellent duke in Sweden ; he was married to Thora, 
the daughter of King Eric of Upsala ; their son was 
hight Thorgils; he was married to Elin (Helen), 
the daughter of Burislav, King of Gardar l in the 
East, and of Ingigerd, the sister of Dagstygg (Day- 
shy), King of the Giants. Their sons were Her- 
grim and Herfinn, who married Halla, the daughter 
of Hedin and Arndis, Hedin's daughter. Groawas 
the daughter of Herfin and Halla ; she was married 
to Hroar, and their son was Slettu-Biorn." The 
mention here made of Scandinavian connections 
with Russia (Gardar) refers to a time at least sixty 
years anterior to the first intercourse between the 
two races known to Nestor (A.D. 859). 

In what manner Thiodrek got possession of 
lands and chieftainship within the settlement of 
Gunnstein's family, whether by law or violence, we 
know not, nor how long he himself enjoyed the 

1 The north of Russia. 

Preface. xix 

dignity and influence he acquired by it. But it is 
certain that the family even long after his son's 
death was the mightiest in Icefirth. The peace 
which Howard had enjoyed before Thorbiorn came 
into the story was over apparently as soon as Thor- 
biorn saw that Olaf his son was likely to rival him 
as a favourite of the people and a man of personal 
prowess. So Howard, in order to get out of too 
hot a corner, takes counsel with his son, and pro- 
poses to flit across the bay and set up a new home 
there, " for then we are nearer to our kinsmen and 
friends." So they moved across, and Howard built 
for himself a new abode and called it Howard- 

At the present day people point out on the 
northern shore of Icefirth the ruins of a long de- 
serted farm called " Howardstead." Its site is 
but a few hundred " fathoms " west of the still 
occupied farmhouse of Myri 1 (the DyrSilmyrr of 
Fostbrae'Srasaga, ch. v.), which again stands only 
a few miles west from Unaftsdalr, Pleasuredale, the 
first settler's home and the chief farmhouse about 
this coast still. All these sites are well within the 
land-take of the first settler, and the accuracy of the 
saga in this respect cannot be impugned. 

Considering the state of society in Howard's 
days, the reason given in the saga for his resolve 
to move away from Thorbiorn's persecutions is 
obviously the only true one. But then who were 
these kinsmen among whom he sought peace and 
rest ? They must have been the descendants of 

1 See K. Kalund's monumental work, Bidragtil en historisk- 
topografisk beskrivelse af Island, i. 606. 

xx Preface. 

Olaf Evenpate. They were not Biargey's kinsfolk, 
for among them the name of Olaf does not appear ; 
besides, they had their possessions about Swanfirth 
and Seydisfirth, west away on the southern side of 
the bay. They were obviously of Howard's own 
kindred, whose son was called Olaf, probably after 
his paternal grandfather, according to general cus- 
tom in all ages among the Icelanders ; and it can 
hardly be an accident that among the settlers of 
Icefirth and their descendants for three generations 
the name should be borne only by these two per- 
sons. Why such a wonderfully detailed genea- 
logical record as the Landndmabok should know 
nothing about Howard's family connections, while 
it enumerates Biargey's forefathers, is probably to 
be explained by the fact that his folk had come 
down in the world by the time he returned from 
his long viking service abroad, a man maimed for 
life. Besides this, the great interest felt in the fate 
of a brutally treated old and helpless man naturally 
served to draw attention to him alone as a hero of 
a miraculous adventure. 

Howard's final removal to Svarfadardale is left 
unexplained in the saga. But it could only have 
meant quest for a peaceful retreat among kinsmen 
or friends. We have seen that Snsebiorn, Olaf 
Evenpate's nearest neighbour of the land-settlers, 
was brother to Helgi the Lean, who settled the 
wholeof Eyiafiord, and within whose dominion Svar- 
fadardale lay. Possibly this family connection had 
something to do with Howard's emigration from 
the west. But perhaps a stronger reason still drew 
him to the north. The name of Howard is a very 

Preface. xxi 

rare one in Iceland and, with the exception of the 
Icefirther, confined to persons in the North-country 
only. It is worth noticing that some time during 
the first half of the tenth century, within which 
nearly the whole of Howard the Halt's lifetime 
falls, there lived in the very valley in which he 
finally settled, a franklin who also bore the name 
of Howard. Very likely, therefore, the hero of our 
saga betook himself to his own kindred when he 
went to the north. 

The fragment of Howard's saga which we have 
already given before out of the Landnamab6k 
renders good service for ascertaining the chrono- 
logy of the saga, or the date of the death of Olaf 
Howardson. Wolf the Marshal, son of Ospak the 
son of Osvif, was a faithful and trusted soldier and 
councillor of King Harold HarSra/Si, of Stamford- 
bridge fame. Wolf died in the spring of the year 
in the autumn of which (Sept. 25th) Harold met 
his death. He could not have been a very old 
man then, as only four years before (1062), at the 
battle on the river Nizi in Halland, against King 
Svein Ulfson of Denmark, he was in command of 
one of King Harold's war-galleys. At the utmost 
he would have been a man of seventy when he 
died, born then A.D. 996. We know from the 
Laxdale Saga that he must have been born before 
1 002, the year when his father, together with his 
other brothers, was banished the country for the 
slaughter of Kiartan Olafsson ; for none of them 
ever returned to Iceland again. Guest's visit to 
Liot the Sage must have taken place after the 
banishment of Ospak ; for no doubt it was in con- 

xxii Preface. 

sequence of the breaking up of his son-in-law's 
house that Liot took his grandson in. This visit 
happened the same autumn that Thorbiorn was 
slain. From the Landnama fragment one is led 
to suppose that the boy Wolf was well grown, say 
six or seven years, when Liot asked his sage 
friend about the fate of his own son. Still further, 
we must note that Ari the Learned, who was the 
fifth in direct descent from Eyolf the Gray, states 
in his Islendingab6k that he was baptized in his 
old age when Christianity was brought to Iceland 
(A.D. 1000). From the Landnama fragment it is 
evident that Steingrim is mentioned as Howard's 
active helper under the authority of the father's 
chiefship. Taking all these things into considera- 
tion, as Vigfusson has done in his Timatal, 
there seems but little doubt that he must be very 
near the mark in placing Guest's visit and Thor- 
biorn's death in A.D. 1003 the death of Olaf con- 
sequently, which, according to the saga, happened 
three times twelve months before, in A.D. 1001. 
Being eighteen years of age when he died, he was 
then born in 983. The age of Biargey, third in 
descent from a settler, does not seem neces- 
sarily to throw any obstacle in the way of this 

The verses of Howard's saga have come down 
to us in a most deplorably mangled state ; yet evi- 
dently they belong to the classical type of the 
poetry of Iceland. A not unsuccessful attempt at 
restoring them was undertaken by the late Gisli 
Brynjolfsson in 1860, and this restoration we have 
for the most part followed in the translation. The 

Preface. xxiii 

Snorra Edda, Skaldskaparmal (i. 232), has pre- 
served one semistrophe by Howard the Halt, 
descriptive of an impending fight with enemies, 
which seems to have belonged to the cyclus of 
Howard verses inserted in the saga, the buoyant 
hope of victory being expressed in the same vein 
as in the saga verses. For the sake of complete- 
ness we add here a literal translation of this frag- 
ment : 

" Above the paths of those who wield 
The sea-horse and the battle-shield, 
Lo, eagles fly ! meseems the lord 
Of hanged men bids them to his board." 

Of the literary qualities of the Howard story we 
need not say much : it is certainly one of the very 
best of the shorter sagas, and is worthy to be put 
by the side of the inimitable Gunnlaug story for its 
dramatic force and directness of narration ; in con- 
sequence, probably, of its having been re-made in 
later times, it is more of a story and less of a 
chronicle than many of the sagas ; and the subject- 
matter of it, the triumph of an old and seemingly 
worn-out man over his powerful enemies, has some- 
thing peculiarly interesting in it, and is fresh in 
these days, when the fortune of a young couple in 
love with each other is, in spite of all disguises, 
almost the invariable theme of a tale. 

manna Saga) is the latest of the independent Ice- 
landic sagas, those, namely, that do not form mere 
episodes of longer sagas. It has come down to us 
in two recensions, one evidently written in the 

xxiv Preface. 

north, referring to Ufeig as living at Reeks west- 
away in Midfirth, the other in the west or the south 
of Iceland, stating in the same passage that Ufeig 
dwelt north-away in Midfirth. The northern text 
is preserved in the Arnamagnsean vellum, 132 fol., 
which palaeographers variously refer to the end of 
the thirteenth down to the middle of the fourteenth 
century, and was edited by H. Fridriksson at 
Copenhagen in 1850. The western text is con- 
tained in 2845, 4to., in the Old Collection of the 
Royal Library at Copenhagen, dating from the 
beginning of the fifteenth century, and was edited 
by Gustav J. Chr. Cederschiold, Lund, 1874. On 
the ground that the text of Cod. Arnam. is in cer- 
tain places more expanded than that of the 
Regius, the opinion has prevailed of late that it 
was a vitiated transcript or copy of the text of the 
latter. But this, we take it, is not the case. Both 
are independent descendants of a common original, 
and that original was of northern, not of western 
or southern authorship. This original is now, no 
doubt with later additions and faults, represented 
by the Cod. Arnam. But Cod. Reg. represents an 
early western departure from this original, whether 
abbreviated or prior to the additions which Cod. 
Arnam. contains, we are not prepared to say. 

A test point in this respect is the following pas- 
sage in ch. i. : 

Preface. xxv 

Arnam. 132. Regius. 

Ufeigr svarar: "Ekki mun "ofeigr suarar ok kuez ecki 

ek minnka tillog vift fik or jwf mundu micla til laugu ueita 

sem pii hefir til unnit ; mun ek honum af Jmi er hann hafdi til 

ok Jw naest gora, ok muntu fa unnet ok ]?ui nsest mundi hann 

vita hvert fullting J>er er at uita hue micill fulltingr honum 

jw." er at Jnii." 

Ufeig answers : " I will not Ofeig answers and says he 

lay down for thee less than would not grant him much 

thou deservest ; and I will go contribution from what he had 

as close as I can to that, and deserved, and next to that he 

then thou wilt know what avail would know what great avail 

it will be to thee." would be to him therein. 

Here it is evident that the Arnam. text, with the 
fine irony and close reasoning of Ufeig, preserves 
the true original, but Regius a scribe's paraphrase, 
unskilful and halting in sense, because he did not 
understand his original. He misreads "minnka," 
which his MS. probably had in the form of " mica," 
and makes of it "micla," which necessitated changing 
the sentence by the insertion of the verb "veita,"and 
the latter part of the passage he misunderstands 
altogether by taking "naest" in a temporal sense, not 
seeing that the sense was : " mun ek gora jm ncest 
sem \ li hefir til unnit " = my award shall be closely 
measured to thy deserts. 

We have therefore not hesitated to base our 
translation on the Arnamagnaean text in preference 
to the other. 

The events related in the saga refer to the middle 
of the eleventh century. Odd Ufeigsson is well 
known to the author of Morkinskinna, probably 
a twelfth century recorder of Norwegian history, 

xxvi Preface. 

who has known tales about Odd that were for- 
gotten or unknown to the author of the Banded 
Men's story, who was probably a century later. The 
extract from the Morkinskinna which we insert 
in the appendix shows that Odd, as a young and 
enterprising chapman, was cotemporary with King 
Harold Sigurdson HarSraSi, who fell at Stamford- 
bridge in England, and who ruled in Norway from 
1046-1066. Thorstein, Odd's friend, pleads with 
the king on behalf of him as Harold's "former 
friend," and we know from the j?attr of Heming 
Aslakson (Flatey book, iii. 386, &c.), that Odd, 
together with many other Icelanders, was one of 
King Harold's men (bodyguard). That this may 
perfectly well have been, and in all probability was, 
the fact, is not gainsaid by the other undoubted 
fact, that this J?attr is but a legend so far as the 
exploits it recounts are concerned. But there is 
this element of history about it, that the actors are 
known to be historical persons living at one and 
the same time in company with each other. The 
Hemings J?attr is written expressly for the purpose 
of foisting upon Harold and his court the older 
legend of Palnatoki, who had to shoot an apple off 
a beloved son's head at a long range at the bidding 
of a cruel tyrant for such is the Harold of this 

Our saga refers, ch. ix., to Skeggbroddi as one 
who had been one of King Harold's men, and made 
much of by him. There is nothing known else- 
where about this. But the question put by Ufeig, 
true to life as it is, shows that the matter was gene- 
rally talked of among people, and Skeggbroddi's 

Preface. xxvii 

answer, equally true to life, that is to say, to Harold's 
peculiar character, points to Ufeig's question hav- 
ing been quite pertinent to the subject, that Skegg- 
broddi had been with King Harold at some time 
during his reign. 

One of the Banded Men, and evidently he for 
whom old Ufeig, despite his way of framing his 
speech, had the greatest respect, was Gellir Thor- 
kelson by a scribal mistake called Thordson in 
our text the well-known grandfather of Ari the 
Learned. He died in advanced age on a pilgrim- 
age to Rome, in Roskilde, in Denmark, A.D. 1073. 
Now when old Ufeig in chapter ix. of our story is 
talking to Gellir about his as yet unmarried 
daughters, Gellir could have been not older than 
of middle age, which accords well with the birth of 
the grandson, Ari, in 1067. If Gellir's age was 
about that of the century he lived in, then he would 
have marriageable daughters about 1050. The 
probable ages of all the other Banded Men agree 
well with this having been about the date of the 
greatest secret legal conspiracy known in the time 
of the Icelandic Commonwealth. 

The story of the legal process is, of course, 
dramatic rather than historical. The core of the 
tale, the process itself, is evidently aimed at the 
administration of justice in Iceland at the time : a 
demonstration against judicial red-tape which pre- 
serves the husk, the formality, of the law, while the 
kernel, substance, equity, is left to take care of it- 
self as best it may. 

The literary quality of the story is high ; the 
characters are steadily held to all through; the 

xxxviii Preface. 

the most learned interpreter living of the laws of 
Iceland, seems to have conclusively proved in his 
masterly treatise, " Om de islandske Love i Fri- 
statstiden " (Aarboger for nordisk Oldkyndighed, 
1873, pp. 73-76), that this theory is not tenable. 
Indeed, if this had been the intention of the law, it 
must be acknowledged that the provision, that 
only one-sixth, instead of two-thirds, of the court 
could form a legal quorum, would be at war with 
the rules of " challenge " in Gragas. 

In the sagas these courts are frequently named 
after the community inhabiting the largest country- 
sides of the quarter, and exercising the greatest 
influence on public matters, both at home and at 
the Althing : " Rangseingadomr " (South Quarter 
Court), " BreidfirSingadomr " (WestQ. C), " EyfirS- 
ingadomr" (North Q-C.^'AustfirSingadomr" (East 
Q. C.), alone bearing invariably the name of its 
own quarter. Each of these courts was the proper 
forum into which to bring cases in which any in- 
habitant of the quarter for which the court was 
nominated was engaged as a defendant. The ques- 
tion whether a defendant belonged to this quarter 
or that was all-important, inasmuch as bringing a 
lawsuit into the wrong court might of itself suffice 
for a dismissal of the case. In this respect it was 
not enough to know where a person was domiciled ; 
for to have one's hearth and home within a certain 
quarter did not prove that the owner or occupier 
belonged to that particular quarter in the sense 
required in pleadings at the quarter courts. But 
" fingfesti," or allegiance to a particular Go^i, decided 
to which quarter the defendant belonged, and into 

Preface. xxxix 

which quarter court, consequently, his case should 
be brought. Hence the first thing for the plaintiff 
to do on commencing proceedings at these courts 
was to ascertain the defendant's J?ingfesti ; for 
though a well-known plaintiff, for instance, was 
domiciled in the east quarter, he might be a liege- 
man of a GoSi in the west, and must therefore 
be sued before the west quarter court. Even in 
the midst of the law proceedings against Flosi of 
Swinefell in the east quarter for the burning of Nial, 
he (Flosi), himself a Gofti, resigned his GoftorS 
to another man, and then took liege service with 
Askel the Go8i of Reekdale in the north quarter, in 
order to hoodwink the plaintiffs (Niala, ch. 141, 
143). Judgment by these courts was valid only 
on condition that all the judges were unanimous, 
otherwise the case came to nought. And this rule 
was the cause why, after forty years, during which 
time it had been the source of much inconvenience 
and discontent, which at last threatened to super- 
sede law by " point and edge," the Fifth Court, 
" fimtardomr," was set up, by the advice of Nial, in 
A.D. 1004. The unworthy motives ascribed to 
Nial for bringing about this pressing reform had 
undoubtedly nothing to do with it. The Gragas 
thus defines the constitution of this court : " We 
shall have a Fifth Court, and it shall be called 
' fimtardomr.' One man shall be nominated into 
that court for every one of the ancient Go'Sor'S, 
nine men from each quarter. Those GoSar that 
have the new Go'Sor'S shall nominate for the court 
one of the ' douzaines ' (one of the four dozen 
members of it). Then the ' douzaines ' will be four, 

xxx Preface. 

of the Althing, and on returning from it to their 
various Go'Sor'S, had to hold those route-assemblies, 
/ef&ir, leets, among their liegemen, at which they 
had to publish whatever measures of general or 
local interest had been passed by the "logretta," 
and the calendar for the ensuing year as framed 
by the speaker-at-law. One of the functions of the 
GoSi was to settle the prices at which inland pro- 
duce should not only change hands in the country 
itself, but be sold to chapmen from abroad, whose 
foreign imports, as a sovereign ruler, after Nor- 
wegian precedent, he also, no doubt with the 
advice of " the best men," took upon himself to ap- 
praise, which regulation of prices had the force of 
sovereign law for the sale of all the merchants' 
goods. Until his " price list was out," and until the 
Gofti himself had made the purchases he needed, 
no dealings might be had with the merchant, no 
goods be bought from him at any other than the 
fixed prices. As in the case of Odd-a-Tongue, the 
exercise of this prerogative by the Icelandic Goftar 
was generally very unpopular, as in the nature of 
the thing it could not fail to be, with foreign mer- 
chants ; and at last in the thirteenth century it led to 
such deplorable conflicts with the Norwegians as 
had nearly brought about an armed invasion from 
Norway, and did in reality furnish the King of 
Norway with one of the many pretexts on which 
he seized for interfering in the internal affairs of 
Iceland preparatory to its subjection in 1262. 

It is a curious thing that the code of the com- 
monwealth, the Gragas, does not seem to know of 
this prerogative as vested in the Go^i, but refers 

Preface. xxxi 

to the matter in the following terms : "It is pro- 
vided in our laws that people may not buy eastern 
(Norwegian) wares at a higher price from the 
ships of ocean-going traders than those three men 
ordain who are appointed for that purpose within 
every district" (I. b. 72). The probable explana- 
tion is that this is a late addition to the code, as 
V. Finsen supposes. At any rate the Go^ar 
seem to have treated it as not derogatory to 
their traditional right, or at least to have abided 
by it as occasion served, and as it suited their 

(2.) The burning of Blundketil, which took 
place A.D. 964 or 965 the date is not in dispute, 
so we need go into no chronological argument to 
show on what evidence it rests was in its conse- 
quences by far the most significant event in the 
history of Iceland during the tenth century. Ac- 
cording to the account of Ari the Learned, it was 
the immediate cause of a change being introduced 
by Thord the Yeller, by which the system of govern- 
ment was finally settled, A.D. 965. 

According to the saga the burning took place 
late in winter, apparently in the month of Goi = 
March, or very early in spring, while pasture was 
as yet scarce, and stalling of live-stock necessary. 
This agrees well with the time required by the 
outraged party for making all their preparations 
for the lawsuit, which had to come before the var- 
j?ing, or spring-mote, spring-court, at Thingness, 
which, as all spring-motes throughout the country, 
met at its earliest on the ythof May (Grag. I. a. 96). 
Thord the Yeller, who became chief plaintiff in the 

xxxii Preface. 

suit, was repelled by force of arms by Odd-a-Tongue, 
who had many and mighty alliances throughout 
Burgfirth ; and so violence and brute force defeated 
the ends of justice in a peculiarly just cause. 

In his Islendingabok, ch. v., Ari the Learned 
gives the following account of the event : " A 
great contest at law arose between Thord Yeller, 
the son of Olaf Feilan out of Broadfirth, and Odd, 
the one who was called Tongue-Odd ; he was of 
Burgfirth. Thorvald, his son, together with Hen- 
Thorir of Ornolfsdale, took part in the burning 
of Thorkel, the son of Blund-Ketil. But Thord 
Yeller was the chief to prosecute the suit, because 
that Herstein, the son of Thorkel Blund-Ketil's 
son, had for wife Thorunn, his sister's daughter. 
She was the daughter of Helga and of Gunnar, 
and was sister to Jofrid, whom Thorstein Egilsson 
had to wife. They were prosecuted at that Thing 
which was in Burgfirth at the place called Thing- 
ness. It was law then that blood-suits should be 
prosecuted at the Thing which was nearest to the 
field of the manslaughter. But they fought there, 
and the Thing might not be held therefore according 
to law. So the case went to the Althing, and 
there they fought again, and 1 men fell from the 
band of Odd, and withal Hen-Thorir was declared 
guilty, and was slain afterwards, together with 
certain others who took part in the burning. 

"Then Thord Yeller gave forth a speech from the 
Rock of Laws as to how ill it answered for men to 
have to go into strange Things wherein to prose- 
cute suits for manslaughters or for other grievances ; 
and he set forth what trouble it had cost him or 

Preface. xxxiii 

ever he might bring this case to law, and said that 
various troubles would grow up if this were not 

"Then was the land divided into quarters, fellow- 
thingmen having one court of law in common ; 
out- taken the Northlanders' quarter, wherein there 
were four Things, because they (of the North) would 
agree to nought else : those north of Eyiafiord being 
unwilling to have to go to a Thing there, those west 
of Skagafirth likewise to go thither. But for all 
that the naming of judges from their quarter, and 
appointments to the logretta, should be the same 
from this quarter as from any of the others. After 
this the Quarter- things were set up. In this manner 
Wolfhedin Gunnarson, the speaker-at-law, told us 
the tale." 

Evidently Wolfhedin told the story of this re- 
markable reform as it was remembered by the 
speakers-at-law, who of all men in the country must 
have been the best informed about it. 

Leaving out of consideration the Quarter-things, 
about which next to nothing is known, and which 
V. Finsen thinks may or may not have ever come 
into practical existence, we have to show 

1. How the Quarter and Thing division was 
carried out. 

2. How on this division depended the Quarter 
Court arrangement. 

3. Likewise the constitution of the Logretta. 
The country was divided into quarters, called 

A. Southlanders' quarter (Sunnlendingafjor'S- 

B. Westfirthers' quarter (Vestfir'SingafjorSungr). 

xxxiv Preface. 

c. Northlanders' quarter (NorSlendingafjor'S- 

D. Eastfirthers' quarter (Austfir ; Singafj6r : Sungr). 

Each of these quarters again was divided into 
" Things," or jurisdictions, as follows : 

Quarter A contained 

1. Rangar- thing. 

2. Arness-thing. 

3. Kjalarness-thing. 

Quarter B 

4. Thverar-thing. 

5. Thorsness-thing. 

6. ThorskafjarSar-thing. 

Quarter c 

7. Hunavatns- thing. 

8. Hegran ess-thing. 

9. VaSla-thing. 

10. Thingeyjar-thing. 

Quarter D 

11. Mula-thing. 

12. SuSrmula- thing. 

13. Skaptafells-thing. 

Everyone of these Things was again divided into 
three GoSorS, each presided over by a GoSi ; so 
that altogether there were thirty-nine Go'Sar in the 
land. Originally, and until the introduction of this 
reform, there were only thirty-six Go^ar in all, and 
only twelve Things in the island. These thirty-six 

Preface. xxxv 

Go'SorS were " full and ancient " (full oc forn), and 
then, as the Gragds says, were the Things un-cut 
up (oslitin). 

From what has been said already, it will be seen 
that the Icelandic word " J?ing," in its constitutional 
application, has really a threefold sense : i, a 
mote, meeting, an assembly, a parliament gathered 
together for the discussion of public affairs and for 
judicial business ; 2, the place at which such a 
mote is held (cf. Thingness-thing) ; 3, the com- 
munity and country-sides to which the jurisdiction 
of such a mote extended. 

As we have seen already, there existed, before 
the introduction of Thord Yeller's reform-law, 
local assemblies at which judicial and other business 
was transacted, the so-called varying, spring-motes, 
spring-courts. Probably after this reform was 
passed they remained much in the same state as 
they were before. Here was the judicial forum in 
the first instance for the fellow-thingmen who 
formed the community, Thing, of which the vdr-f>ing 
was the central court. It was regulated and super- 
intended by the three Goftar of the Thing. It 
fell into two divisions : soknar-J?ing, or lawsuit 
division, court of law; and skulda-Jnng, debt divi- 
sion, which was competent to deal with matters re- 
lating to debts and public terms for payments, rents, 
&c., falling due. The law court proper consisted 
of thirty-six judges, twelve for each of the three 
Go'SoriSof the Thing, nominated respectively by the 
three Go'Sar. It was left an optional matter, after 
the establishment of the quarter courts at the Al- 
thing, whether a case should go before this local 

xxxvi Preface. 

court of justice, or it should be passed by and the 
case go direct to the Althing. 

The trouble to which these local Things obviously 
would be liable to give rise, in the unreformed state 
of the constitution, was this, that when the matter 
in dispute lay between litigants of two separate 
Things, the outsider was always bound to be at the 
same time the plaintiff, the court being the defen- 
dant's legal forum, according to the law provision 
stated by Ari : " It was law then that blood-suits " 
and naturally other criminal cases as well 
" should be prosecuted at the Thing which was 
nearest to the field of the manslaughter" or field of 
action. Here clearly all the advantage was on 
the side of the defendant, whose family relations, 
friendships, and alliances by affinity naturally would 
be greatest within his own district, Thing. The 
outsider had to depend entirely on his personal in- 
fluence in collecting and leading into a strange 
country such forces as might be likely to ensure ne- 
cessary respect. In failing to do so he was certain 
to fare as did Thord the Yeller at Thingness- 
thing, and justice was left at the mercy of the 
sword. This state of things therefore meant a 
standing appeal from law to violence. 

The remedy proposed was the establishment of 
the Quarter Courts at the Althing, one court of law 
for each of the quarters of the land a wisely con- 
ceived measure under the existing circumstances, 
since there alliances could be formed on the merits 
of a case rather than by local bias. 

These courts were nominated for each yearly 
session of the Althing by the Goftar out of their 

Preface. xxxvii 

own thingmen (liegemen, clients). The nomination 
is thus regulated in the Gragas : "It is provided 
in our law, that we shall have four Quarter Courts, 
fj6r i o 1 ungs-d6ma. Every GoSi who has a full and 
ancient Go'Sor'S shall name one man (judge) into 
court, those being full and ancient Go'Sor'S which 
were then, when there were three Things in 
every quarter and three Goftar in every Thing " 
(I. a. 38). By the wording of the law then, since 
the nominators were the three Goftar of every 
Thing, as the Things stood before the North 
quarter compromise (see above), and since there 
were three Things in each quarter and no more to 
which the right of nomination was given, and since 
each Go^i had to nominate one man into court, it 
would seem evident that each quarter court con- 
sisted of nine judges. Of these nine judges it was 
provided again that six should be sufficient to form 
a legal quorum (" withal their judgment is then as 
valid as if they had all passed it" Grag. I. a. 74). 
Some critics, notably the great scholar, K. Maurer, 1 
are of opinion that the judges nominated to each of 
these courts must, as in the case of the spring 
courts, have amounted in number to thirty-six, the 
mode of nomination being that everyone of the 
thirty-six Go'Sar appointed one judge for every 
quarter court, or four judges each. But V. Finsen, 

1 On the subject see K. Maurer's admirable treatises : Ent- 
stehung des islandischen Staats und seiner Verfassung, Miin- 
chen, 1852, pp. 177-78, and Quellenzeugnisse iiber das erste 
Landrecht und iiber die Ordnung der Bezirksfassung des islan- 
dischen Freistaates, in Abhandl. der bayer. Akad. der Wissen- 
schaften, I. Classe, XII. Bd., 1869, I. Abtheilung, pp. 80-82. 

xxxviii Preface. 

the most learned interpreter living of the laws of 
Iceland, seems to have conclusively proved in his 
masterly treatise, " Om de islandske Love i Fri- 
statstiden " (Aarboger for nordisk Oldkyndighed, 
1873, pp. 73-76), that this theory is not tenable. 
Indeed, if this had been the intention of the law, it 
must be acknowledged that the provision, that 
only one-sixth, instead of two-thirds, of the court 
could form a legal quorum, would be at war with 
the rules of " challenge " in Gragas. 

In the sagas these courts are frequently named 
after the community inhabiting the largest country- 
sides of the quarter, and exercising the greatest 
influence on public matters, both at home and at 
the Althing : " Rangaeingadomr " (South Quarter 
Court), " BreidfirSingadomr " (West Q. C), " EyfirS- 
ingadomr" (North Q.C.),"AustnrSingad6mr" (East 
Q. C.), alone bearing invariably the name of its 
own quarter. Each of these courts was the proper 
forum into which to bring cases in which any in- 
habitant of the quarter for which the court was 
nominated was engaged as a defendant. The ques- 
tion whether a defendant belonged to this quarter 
or that was all-important, inasmuch as bringing a 
lawsuit into the wrong court might of itself suffice 
for a dismissal of the case. In this respect it was 
not enough to know where a person was domiciled ; 
for to have one's hearth and home within a certain 
quarter did not prove that the owner or occupier 
belonged to that particular quarter in the sense 
required in pleadings at the quarter courts. But 
" J?ingfesti," or allegiance to a particular Go^i, decided 
to which quarter the defendant belonged, and into 

Preface. xxxix 

which quarter court, consequently, his case should 
be brought. Hence the first thing for the plaintiff 
to do on commencing proceedings at these courts 
was to ascertain the defendant's J?ingfesti ; for 
though a well-known plaintiff, for instance, was 
domiciled in the east quarter, he might be a liege- 
man of a Go'Si in the west, and must therefore 
be sued before the west quarter court. Even in 
the midst of the law proceedings against Flosi of 
Swinefell in the east quarter for the burning of Nial, 
he (Flosi), himself a Go'Si, resigned his Go'Sor'S 
to another man, and then took liege service with 
Askel the Go'Si of Reekdale in the north quarter, in 
order to hoodwink the plaintiffs (Niala, ch. 141, 
143). Judgment by these courts was valid only 
on condition that all the judges were unanimous, 
otherwise the case came to nought. And this rule 
was the cause why, after forty years, during which 
time it had been the source of much inconvenience 
and discontent, which at last threatened to super- 
sede law by " point and edge," the Fifth Court, 
" fimtardomr," was set up, by the advice of Nial, in 
A.D. 1004. The unworthy motives ascribed to 
Nial for bringing about this pressing reform had 
undoubtedly nothing to do with it. The Gragas 
thus defines the constitution of this court : " We 
shall have a Fifth Court, and it shall be called 
' fimtardomr.' One man shall be nominated into 
that court for every one of the ancient Go'Sor'S, 
nine men from each quarter. Those Goftar that 
have the new GoftorS shall nominate for the court 
one of the ' douzaines ' (one of the four dozen 
members of it). Then the ' douzaines ' will be four, 

xl Preface. 

and there will be with them (the twelve elected 
by the new Go'Sar) twelve men out of every 

There were created twelve new GoSorS, in addi- 
tion to the thirty-six full and ancient ones, ex- 
pressly for the purpose of nominating twelve judges 
for this court, so that the number might be forty- 
eight. It simplified the problem of thirty-six elec- 
tors having an equal share in nominating forty- 
eight members. On the other hand, it was pro- 
vided that each party to a lawsuit before this court 
should be bound to challenge out of it six of its 
judges, twelve altogether, and should either party 
refrain from taking the advantage of this privilege, 
it was the bounden duty of the other party to chal- 
lenge out all twelve, for only thirty-six might law- 
fully sit in judgment in the court. The suit for 
the burning of Nial was lost by the plaintiffs for 
disregarding this peremptory rule. Into this court 
should be brought all cases on which the quarter 
court judges disagreed, likewise such as related to 
false verdicts and false witness, or perjury and 
bribery. Here not unanimity, but majority of votes, 
carried a lawful judgment. 

From Ari's account of Thord Yeller's reform it 
is clear that it did not only extend to the judicial, but 
also to the legislative affairs of the land, especially 
to the constitution of the Logretta (Law-righter) or 
legislative body of the Althing. This is evident 
from the device to which Thord resorted in order 
to counteract the preponderance of votes which 
would fall to the north quarter in consequence of 
its counting twelve Goftar, or three beyond each of 

Preface. xli 

the other quarters, a disproportion created by the 
insistence of the Northlanders on this occasion to 
have their quarter divided into four Things. This 
disproportion was adjusted by the GoSar belong- 
ing to the minority quarters (east, south, and 
west) selecting one person from each Thing three, 
therefore, from each quarter to have a seat in the 
logretta with all the privileges of a Go'Si, so that, in 
addition to the thirty-nine Go'Sar that formed the 
nucleus or pith of the logretta, there came nine 
elected men who brought the number of the pith 
of the assembly up to forty-eight members, each of 
whom bore the distinguishing title of Logrettu- 
maSr. Each LogrettumaSr again had to provide 
himself with two assessors or counsellors, and thus 
the whole number of the legislative body amounted 
to 3 x 48 = 144 members, to which number were 
added three ex officio members the speaker, to 
wit, and, after A.D. 1056 and 1 106 respectively, the 
two bishops of Skalholt and Holar. 

It was provided that the assembly should be 
seated on three dais or benches surrounding the 
logretta or hallow space within. These benches 
were to give easy sitting space to four dozens of 
men each, a provision which indicates that on each 
set of benches were seated the representatives of 
each respective quarter. Whether they were ar- 
ranged in a square or a circle fashion does not 
appear. On the middle bench sat the Logrettu-men 
proper, behind and in front of each his two assessors 
or advisers. 

On the logretta devolved the important duty of 
making laws for the whole land, framing new laws, 

xlii Preface. 

amending older enactments, and, in certain evidently 
frequently recurring cases, deciding what should be 
law when disputes arose between any parties pre- 
sent at the Althing, without being litigants in a pend- 
ing lawsuit before the courts, as to doubtful points 
in law. On this interesting point the Gragas (I. a. 
213) says : "Now there is a dispute between men 
as to what is the law, then the vote of the logretta 
may be taken, provided the copies of the code 
(scrdr), do not decide the matter. But this shall 
be done thus, that under witnesses at the Hill of 
Laws all the Go^ar at the Althing and the speaker- 
at-law shall be bidden to go to the Logretta and 
take their seats, and decide this point of law even 
as thenceforth it shall stand." That the enactments 
of the logretta were carried by majority of votes, 
not by unanimity, Finsen has conclusively proved. 
In one respect there was an exception. The 
speaker-at-law, who seems to have acted, at least 
in certain cases, as chairman or president of the 
logretta, must be elected unanimously ; failing this, 
lots were cast as to which of the quarters the elec- 
tion should fall, whereupon the representatives of 
the quarter to which the lot fell elected him by 
simple majority. His term of office was three years, 
at the end of which he could be, and frequently was, 
re-elected. His most important function, especially 
while there was as yet no written law in the land, 
was to recite to the assembled Althing the laws of 
the country from the Hill of Laws, in the following 
manner. The law of judicial procedure at the 
Althing he had to recite every year, and with 
such perfect accuracy that no one present should 

Preface. xliii 

be able to do it as well or better. The rehearsal 
of the rest of the law was, under the same condi- 
tion, spread over three years. If his knowledge of 
the text of the law was at fault, he was bound to 
confer with five experts, the day immediately pre- 
ceding his recital, in order to ensure thorough 
accuracy. All new enactments and amendments, 
as well as decisions relating to dispensations, miti- 
gations of penalties incurred, and the like, he had 
to give out to the assembled multitude from the 
Rock of Laws ; likewise whether the Althing 
should meet before the time fixed by law ; 1 further, 
he had to proclaim the calendar for the ensuing 
year, especially in relation to the movable feasts. 
All this he had to do towards the breaking up of 
each session. Cf. Grag. La. 208 foil. 

Such, briefly stated, are the broad outlines of 
the constitution of the commonwealth of Iceland. 
It may be said in passing that all this story 
of the quarter courts and Thord the Yeller's 
changes points to the fact that when the Go'Sar 
first come before us, society in Iceland was in a 
transition state between the condition of mere 
personal relations of each member of the tribe to 

1 Ari, referring to a law passed in 999, Isl. bok, ch. vii., says : 
" Then it was proclaimed by law that men should then come 
to the Althing when ten weeks of summer were spent, but up 
to that time they came a week earlier." Summer, O.S., began 
on the Thursday that fell on April 9-15, consequently the tenth 
week of summer closed on the Wednesday that fell on June 
17-23. Cf. Grag. I. a. 37 : "The fifth day of the week shall 
be the first (day) of summer," and ib. 43: " All Go'Sar shall 
come to the Thing the fifth day when ten weeks of summer are 
spent before the sun sets on Thingvollr," i.e. on June 18-24. 

xliv Preface. 

each other, and that of property, or political rela- 
tions. Thord the Yeller's reform, with its localiza- 
tion of the Color's and Things, indicates the very 
end of that transition, and the last step in the 
transformation of the tribal priest-chief into the 
foreman of landholders. 

(3.) The "hallowing" of land by fire. In the 
ninth chapter of our saga we read : " So Odd 
rideth to a certain house that was not utterly 
burned ; there he lays hold of a birch-rafter and 
pulled it down from the house, and then rode with 
the burning brand withershins round about the 
house, and spake : ' Here take I land to myself, for 
here I see no house inhabited.' ' 

There is frequent mention of this ancient custom 
of taking possession of land, "hallowing the land 
to one's self" by fire, during the period of the 
settlement of Iceland. Thus the Landnamabok, 
p. 276, says : " Those who came later out to Ice- 
land deemed the others (the former settlers) had 
taken too wide lands to themselves ; but King 
Harold made them agree to this, that no one 
should take more land to himself than what he 
could carry fire across in one day, together with 
his crew. They should make fires when the sun 
was in the east ; other smokes were to be made, 
so that each could have an inkling of the other ; 
but the fires that were made in the east were to 
burn unto nightfall ; then they should walk till the 
sun was in the west, and make other fires there." 

Of Helgi the Lean, a Christian settler from the 
Hebrides, the same record relates, p. 207 : " Helgi 
searched the whole settlement (hera'S) during the 

Preface. xlv 

summer, and made his own the whole of Eyiafiord 
between Sigluness and Reynisness, and made a 
large fire at every river-mouth, and thus hallowed 
for himself the whole of the settlement." 

Helgi's foster-brother, Saemund, we are told, 
" went with fire, by old custom, and took for him- 
self the land which is now called Saemundslith in 
Skagafirth " (Vatnsdaela, ch. x., Landn., p. 189). 

His grand- daughter, Hallbera,goes to Vfgaglum, 
who was loth to leave the land he had been law- 
fully forced to sell to her son Einar, and says : 
" All hail, Glum, but here there is no abiding 
longer for thee, for now I have brought fire unto 
the land of Thvera (Thwart-riverstead), and I now 
bid thee be off with all thy belongings, since the 
land is hallowed to my son Einar" (Gliima, ch. 

Of Jorund the Go'Si, a settler of Rangdrvellir, 
the Landnama, p. 284, relates : " A corner of land 
lay unclaimed to the east of the Fleet (Markfleet), 
between Crossriver and Joldustone ; over that land 
Jorund went with fire, and bequeathed it to the 
temple " (which he himself had raised at Svertings- 
stead, on the western side of Markfleet). 

But the most curious passage relating to these 
fire-hallowings of unclaimed lands is the following 
in the Landnamabok, p. 193 : " Onund the Sure 
hight a man who settled land up from Mark-Gill, 
all the eastern side of the valley, but when Eirek" 
(Hroaldson, a settler of Go'Sdalir) " was minded to 
go and settle all the western side of that valley, 
Onund had a sacrifice and cast lots that he might 
be sure what time Eirek would go to make the 

xlvi Preface. 

valley his own, and Onund was the quicker of the 
two, and shot a tinder-arrow across the river, and 
thus hallowed for himself the land on the western 

It is clear that hallowing waste lands, or lands 
unlawfully occupied, for one's self in this manner, 
carried with it an absolute title to ownership in the 
land-settling days of Iceland, and for some time 
afterwards. To investigate the question of the 
origin of this custom is a matter far beyond the 
scope of these prefatory remarks. It may be 
noticed that the use made by Tongue-Odd of the 
ceremony, when he, in the presence of the heir to 
the murdered father's property, claims it because he 
sees no house inhabited, sees nought but a waste 
land, shows, not perhaps so much his love of 
wrongdoing, as his ignorance of the sacredness of 
a rite which perchance had a different meaning to 
the heathen from the east and the Christian from 
the west, i.e., from Great Britain. 1 

The style of Hen Thorir's Saga is of the very 
simplest simple sometimes even to abruptness ; 
especially in the passage where a few words tell of 
the burning of the noble and generous Blundketil ; 
and wherein our saga offers such a curious contrast 
to the tremendous drama which surrounds the 
death of Nial and his sons. Yet even this strange 

1 The Icelanders' way of speaking of those who came from 
Ireland, the Hebrides, and even from Scotland and Orkney, as 
coming from the west, is to be explained by tradition, not by 
their want of geographical orientation. From Norway these 
lands lay in the west, and their inhabitants were " Westmen " 
to those of the primitive fatherland. Hence the inaccurate use 
of the cardinal point by the Icelanders. 

Preface. xlvii 

blankness is not without weight in the telling of 
the tale, helping to bring home to us the desolate 
condition of the franklin's heir, and the gradual 
building up of his fortune again from that barrenness. 
For the rest, the catastrophe is led up to with a 
full share of the usual skill and intentness of the 
Icelandic saga-man, and the chronicle-tale into 
which it lapses in the latter part, like most of the 
more historical of the local sagas, is told briskly 
and with purpose, and ends very pleasantly, with 
the generous and manly dealings between Thord 
Oddson and the gallant archer, Gunnar Hlifarson. 
Those who are curious to go into a comparative 
study of the historical details of this saga we refer 
to our Note to page xxxii. 






Page 15, lines 28-29, f 01 ' "So go we all together," said Olaf 

read " So go we all together." Said Olaf; 
,, 90, line 25, for courts read court. 
,,158, 1 3, for away raz</ abroad. 


lyvinclfon s 





HERE beginneth this story, and telleth of 
a man named Thorbiorn, the son of Thio- 
drek, who dwelt in Icefirth at a house 
called Bathstead, and had the priesthood over Ice- 
firth ; he was a man of great kin and a mighty chief, 
but the most unjust of men, neither was there any 
throughout Icefirth who bore any might to gainsay 
him : he would take the daughters of men or their 
kinswomen, and handfast them awhile, and then 
send them home again. From some men he took 
their goods and chattels in their despite, and other 
some he drave away from their lands. He had taken 
a woman, Sigrid by name, young and high-born, to 
be over his household ; great wealth she had, which 
Thorbiorn would hold for her behoof, but not put 
out to usury while she was with him. 

A man named Howard dwelt at the stead of 
Bluemire : he was of great kin, but now sunk 
unto his latter days ; in his earlier life he had 
been a great viking, and the best of champions; 
but in a certain fight he had gotten many sore 

2 The Saga Library. 

hurts, and amongst them one under his kneepan, 
whereby he went halt ever after. Howard was a 
wedded man, and his wife was hight Biargey, a 
woman of good kin, and the most stirring of women. 
One son they had, hight Olaf, young of years, the 
doughtiest of men, great of growth, and goodly of 
aspect : Howard and Biargey loved him much, 
and he was obedient and kind unto them. 

Thormod was the name of a man who dwelt at 
Bank, whose wife was hight Thorgerd : he was little 
to people's minds, and was now somewhat stricken 
in years ; it was said of him that he had more shapes 
than one, and all folk deemed him most ill to deal 

Liot was the name of one who dwelt at Moonberg 
in Icefirth, a big man and a strong, brother to Thor- 
biorn, and in all wise as like him as might be. 

A man named Thorkel dwelt on an isle called 
Eider-isle : he was a wise man, but of feeble heart, 
though of great kin : he was of all men the least 
outspoken : he was the Lawman of those of Ice- 
firth. Two more men are named in the story ; one 
named Brand, and the other Vakr, homemen of 
Thorbiorn of Bathstead : Brand was great of growth 
and mighty of strength ; it was his business to go 
hither and thither in the summer, and fetch home 
things of need for the stead ; but in winter he had 
to watch the full-grown sheep : he was a man well- 
beloved, and no busybody. 

Vakr was sister's son of Thorbiorn, a little man, 
and freckled of face, murderous of speech, and 
foul-mouthed ; he would ever be egging Thor- 
biorn, his kinsman, of two minds to be of the 

Howard the Halt. 3 

worser : wherefore was he unbefriended, and folk 
grudged him no true word about himself : he did 
no work save going about with Thorbiorn at home 
and abroad, and doing his errands for him, and 
that more especially when he was about some evil 

A woman named Thordis dwelt at the Knoll in 
Icefirth ; she was sister of Thorbiorn, and mother 
of Vakr, and had another son named Scart, a big 
and strong man, who abode with his mother, and 
was master over her household. 

Thoralf was the name of a man who abode at 
Loonsere, a man well befriended, albeit of no great 
account ; he was nigh akin to Sigrid, Thorbiorn's 
housekeeper, and had craved to have her home to 
him, and to put her money out to usury ; but Thor- 
biorn would not have it so, but once more showed 
forth his injustice, forbidding him ever speak a word 
hereof again. 


HERE taketh up the tale the telling of how 
that Olaf waxed up at Bluemire, and be- 
came a hopeful man : men say that Olaf 
Howardson had bear's- warmth ; for there was never 
that frost or cold wherein he would go in more 
raiment than breeches alone, with shirt girded there- 
into ; never went he forth from the house clad in 
more raiment than that. 

There was a man named Thorhall, a homeman 
of Howard, and akin to him, a young man of the 

4 The Saga Library. 

briskest, who used to get things together for the 

One autumn the men of Icefirth fared to their 
sheep-walks, and gathered but little there, and 
Thorbiorn of Bathstead lacked sixty wethers. 
Winter-nights wore, and they were not found, but a 
little before winter Olaf Howardson went up into 
the sheep-walks, and all the fells, and searched for 
men's sheep, and found many, both those of 
Thorbiorn, and his own and his father's, and other 
folk's besides : then he drave the sheep home, and 
brought his own to each man : whereby he became 
well-beloved, and he had all men's thanks therefor. 

Early on a day Olaf drave Thorbiorn's wethers 
down to Bathstead, and he got there by then all 
folk were set down to table, and there was no man 
without ; so he smote on the door and a woman 
came thereto, Sigrid to wit, Thorbiorn's house- 
keeper, and she greeted him well, and asked him 
what he would ; Olaf answered : " I have brought 
Thorbiorn's wethers here, even those that he lost 
in the autumn." 

But when Thorbiorn heard that the door was 
smitten on, he bade Vakr go see who was come 
thither, so Vakr arose and went to the wicket, 
and there he saw how Olaf and Sigrid were a- 
talking together ; so he got up on the ledge of the 
door and stood there while they talked. Now 
Olaf was saying : " No need to go further then ; 
thou Sigrid shalt tell where the wethers are." 

She said that so it should be, and bade him 
farewell : whereon Vakr ran back whooping into 
the hall : then Thorbiorn asked him why he went 

Howard the Halt. 5 

on so, or who was to hand : said he : "I believe 
verily that he, Olaf Howardson the Bluemire 
booby, has been here, driving home thy sheep 
that were missing last harvest." 

" A good deed," said Thorbiorn. 

" Ah, methinks there was something else behind 
his coming, though," said Vakr, " for he and Sigrid 
have been talking away all the morning, and I 
could see that she liked well enough to lay her 
arms about his neck." 

Quoth Thorbiorn : " Dauntless though Olaf be, 
yet is he overbold thus to go about to win my 

So Olaf fared home. Time weareth, and, as 
saith the tale, ever would Olaf be coming to Bath 
stead, and seeing Sigrid ; and things went well 
betwixt them, and the rumour went abroad pre- 
sently that Olaf was beguiling her. 

Next harvest went men to their sheep-walks, 
and again brought home but little, and again 
Thorbiorn lacked most : so when the folding was 
over, Olaf gat him away alone, and went into the 
sheep-walks far and wide, over mount and moor, 
and again found many sheep and drave them into 
the peopled parts, and once more brought each 
man his own ; whereby he became so beloved of 
the bonders that all men gave him good thanks, 
saving Thorbiorn, who waxed exceeding grim at 
him for all this ; both that others praised him, and 
that he heard folk say the country over, of how he 
came to Sigrid : neither spared Vakr to slander 
Olaf to Thorbiorn. 

Now once more it has come to pass that Olaf 

6 The Saga Library. 

is gotten to Bathstead with as many wethers as 
aforetime ; and when he came thither no man was 
without; so went he into the hall, and master 
Thorbiorn was therein, and Vakr his kinsman, and 
many homemen : Olaf went well-nigh up to the 
dais, and smote his axe-shaft down on to the floor 
and leaned thereon : but none greeted him, and 
all kept silence ; so Olaf, when he found that no 
man gave any heed to him, sang a stave : 

This silence shall I break 
And to Thanes speechless speak. 
Stems of the spear-wood tall 
Why sit ye hushed in hall ? 
What honour then have those 
Who keep their mouths shut close ? 
Now long have I stood here 
And had no word of cheer. 

Spake Olaf then : "It is my errand hither, 
goodman Thorbiorn, that I have brought home 
thy wethers." 

" Yea," said Vakr, " men know, Olaf, that thou 
art become the Icefirth sheep-drover ; and we wot 
of thine errand hither, that thou art come to claim 
a share in the sheep ; after the fashion of beggars. 
And it were best to remember him, little as the 
alms may be." 

Olaf answered : " Nay, that is not my errand, 
neither will I drive sheep here the third time." 
And he turned away, and Vakr sprang up and 
whooped after him, but Olaf gave no heed at all 
to it, but went his ways home. 

So wear the seasons ; and that harvest men get 
home their sheep well, save Thorbiorn, who again 

Howard the Halt. 7 

lacked sixty wethers, and found them not at all : 
so those kinsmen let out the word that Olaf had a 
mind to claim share in them, or to steal them else. 

Now on an evening as Olaf and his father sat 
at the board together there lay a leg of mutton on 
the dish, and Olaf took it up, and said : " A won- 
drous big and fat leg is this." 

" Yea," said Howard, " but methinks, kinsman, 
it came from our sheep and not from Master 
Thorbiorn's : a heavy thing to have to bear such 
injustice ! " 

Olaf laid the leg down on the board, and flushed 
red ; and it seemed to them that sat by as though 
he had smitten on the board ; anyhow, the leg 
brake asunder so sharply that one part thereof 
flew up into the gable wainscot and stuck there : 
Howard looked up and smiled, but said nought. 
Even therewith walked a woman into the hall, 
and there was come Thorgerd of Bank : Howard 
greeted her well, and asked for tidings, and she 
said that her husband Thormod was dead. 

" Yea, but things go amiss with us," she said, "for 
he cometh home to his bed every night : wherefore 
I fain would have some help from thee, goodman : 
for whereas my men deemed it ill dealing with 
Thormod aforetime, now are things come to such 
a pass that they are all minded to be gone." 

Howard answered : " I am passed the briskest 
way of my life now, and am unmeet for such deal- 
ings : why goest thou not to Bathstead ? it is to 
be looked for of chieftains that they should presently 
use their might in the country-side for the settling 
of such matters." 

8 The Saga Library. 

She answered : " No good do I look for thence ; 
nay, I am well content if he do me no harm." 

Said Howard : " Then do I counsel thee to ask 
Olaf, my son ; meet it is for young men to try their 
manliness in such wise : time was when we should 
have deemed it good game." 

Even so she did, and Olaf promised to go, and 
bade her abide there that night ; but the next day 
Olaf went home with Thorgerd, at whose house 
were all folk down-hearted. 

But at night folk went to bed and Olaf lay in a 
gable-end bed out by the door. In such wise burnt 
light in the hall, that it was bright aloft and dim 
below. Olaf lay down in his shirt and breeches (for 
he never wore other clothes) and cast a fell over him. 
Now at nightfall Thormod walked into the hall wag- 
ging his bald head, and saw that there was a man a- 
bed where none was wont to lie ; and forsooth he was 
not over hospitable, so he turned thither, and caught 
hold of the fell ; Olaf would not let it go, but held 
on till they tore it atwain betwixt them ; so when 
Thormod saw there was might in him that lay there, 
he leapt up into the settle by the bed. Olaf sprang 
up and laid hold on his axe to smite him, but things 
went quicker than he looked for, and Thormod ran 
in under his hand, and Olaf had to grapple with 
him. The struggle was of the fiercest ; Thormod 
was so hard a gripper that the flesh gave way be- 
fore him wheresoever he took hold : and most 
things flew about that were before them. Even in 
that nick of time the light died out, and Olaf 
deemed matters nowise amended thereby. Thor- 
mod fell on furiously, and it came to pass in the 

Howard the Halt. 9 

end that they drave out of doors. In the home- 
mead lay a great drift-log, and as hap would have 
it Thormod tripped both his heels against the log 
and fell aback : Olaf let his knee follow the belly 
of him and served Thormod in such wise that he 
did with him as he would. All folk were silent 
when Olaf came back into the hall ; but when he 
let himself be heard, folk were afoot and the light 
kindled at one and the same time, and they fell to 
stroking of him up and down, for he was all bruised 
by Thormod's handling ; every child of man that 
could speak gave thanks to him, and he said 
he deemed that they would have no more hurt of 

Olaf abode there certain days, and then went 
back to Bluemire ; but the fame of that deed 
of his spread wide through Icefirth, and all the 
quarters of the land. Nevertheless from all this 
also the hatred of Thorbiorn to him did but wax 
the more. 


IT is next to be told how a whale came ashore 
in Icefirth : now Thorbiorn and Howard had 
rights of drift adjoining one to the other, and 
men said straightway that this whale was Howard's 
of right ; and it was the best of whales. Either side 
went thither, and would have the judgment of the 
Lawman thereon : many men were come together 
there, and it seemed clear to all that Howard should 
have the whale. 

(lo The Saga Library. 

But now Thorkel the Lawman being come, he 
was asked whose the whale was : he answered, 
speaking very low, " Certainly the whale is 
theirs." Then went Thorbiorn to him with drawn 
sword, " Whose, thou wretch ? " said he. " O 
thine, thine, surely," said Thorkel in all haste, 
letting his head fall. So then Thorbiorn set to 
work, and with wrongdoing took to him all the 
whale, and Howard went home ill content with his 
lot, and all men now deemed that Thorbiorn's utter 
wrongdoing was again made manifest. 

On a day Olaf went to his sheep-folds because 
the weather was hard that winter, and men had 
great need to look to their sheep, and that night 
had been exceeding hard ; so when he was about 
going he sees a man coming up to the house, 
Brand the Strong to wit. Olaf greeted him, and 
Brand took his greeting well ; Olaf asked what 
made him there so late. Brand said : " It is an 
ugly tale. I went to my sheep early in the day, 
but they had all got driven down on to the fore- 
shore ; there were two places whereby to drive 
them up, but so oft as I tried to do that, there was 
a man in the way, and withstood them, so that 
they all came back into my arms ; and thus has it 
gone on all day until now, wherefore am I fain that 
we go there both together." 

" That will I do for thy prayer," said Olaf. 

So they went both together down to the fore- 
shore, and when they would drive up the sheep 
thence, they saw Thormod, Olaf 's wrestling-fellow, 
standing in the way, and staying the sheep, so that 
they came back into their arms. Then said Olaf, 

Howard the Halt. 1 1 

" Which wilt thou, Brand, drive the sheep, or play 
with Thormod ? " 

"The easiest will I choose," said Brand, "driving 
the sheep to wit." 

Then Olaf went there whereas stood Thormod 
against him up above. There lay a great snow- 
drift over the face of the bank. Olaf ran forthwith 
up the bank at Thormod, who gave back before 
him ; but when he came up on to the bank Thor- 
mod ran under the arms of him, and Olaf caught 
hold and wrestled with all his might ; they played 
a long while, and Olaf thought that Thormod had 
lost but little of his strength from that handling of 
his : so it came to pass that they both fell together 
on the face of the bank, and rolled over and over 
one another till they tumbled into the drift below, 
and now one, now the other, was atop, till they 
came on to the foreshore ; by then as it happed 
Thormod was under, so Olaf made the most of it, 
and brake the back of him asunder, and served 
him as he would, and then swam out to sea with 
him and sank him in the depths of the sea ; and 
ever after have men deemed it uncouth for men 
sailing anigh there. 

Then Olaf swam ashore, and Brand had by 
then driven up all the sheep, and he gave 
Olaf fair welcome, and so each went his ways 

But when Brand came home, the night was far 
spent, and Thorbiorn asked what had belated him. 
Brand told him how things had gone, and how 
Olaf had stood him in stead. Then said Vakr : 
" Thou must have been sore afraid, whereas thou 

12 The Saga Library. 

praisest that booby : his fame will mostly come of 
his dealings with ghosts, forsooth." 

Brand answered : "Thou wouldst havebeen more 
afraid ; for ever art thou greatest in talk, as the fox 
in his tail, and in nowise art thou a match for him.'* 

So they talked till either grew hot ; then Thor- 
biorn bade Brand not to champion Olaf : " It shall 
be ill for thee or any other to make more of Olaf 
than me or my kin." 

So weareth winter, and when spring is come, 
Howard falleth to talk with Olaf his son, saying : 
" Things have come to this, kinsman, that I have 
no heart to live any longer so nigh to Thorbiorn, 
for we have no might to hold our own against him." 

Olaf said : " It is little to my mind to have such 
boot for our wrongs as to flee before Thorbiorn ; 
yet will I that thou rule ; whither wilt thou, 
then ? " 

Howard answered : "Out on the other side of 
the firth are many empty tofts and wide lands 
owned of no man ; there will I that we set up our 
dwelling, and then we shall be nigher to our friends 
and kinsfolk." 

That rede they take and flit all their stock and 
such goods as they had, and set up there a very 
goodly house, which was afterward called Howard- 

Now there were no bonders in Icefirth in those 
days, but were land-settlers. 

Howard the Halt. 13 


N" OW Thorbiorn Thiodrekson rode every 
summer to the Thing with his men ; he 
was a mighty chief, of great stock, and had 
many kinsmen. 

In those days Guest Oddleifson dwelt at the 
Mead on Bardstrand ; he was a great sage, and 
wise and well-befriended, the most foreseeing of 
all men, and had rule over many. 

Now the same summer that the father and son 
shifted their dwelling Thorbiorn rode to the Thing 
a-wooing, and craved the sister of Guest Odd- 
leifson. Guest was cold over the match, saying 
that Thorbiorn was little to his mind because of 
his injustice and violence ; but whereas many 
furthered Thorbiorn in his wooing, Guest gave 
him this choice, that the match should be if he 
promised by hand given to lay aside his injustice 
and wrongdoing, and to render his own to each 
man, and hold by law and right ; but if he would 
not bring himself to this, then was Guest to be quit 
of the bargain, and the match to be clean voided. 

Thorbiorn assented hereto, and the bargain was 
struck on these terms. Then Thorbiorn rode from 
the Thing home with Guest to Bardstrand, and 
the wedding was holden in the summer, and that 
was the best of bridals. 

But when these tidings were known in Icefirth, 
Sigrid and Thoralf her kinsman take counsel 
together, and summon the bonders, and let 
appraise for Sigrid her goods out of Bathstead, 
and x thereafter she fared to Thoralf at Loonsere. 

14 The Saga Library. 

So when Thorbiorn came home to Bathstead he 
was wondrous wroth that Sigrid was gone ; and 
he threatened the bonders with measureless evil 
in that they had appraised those goods, and he 
grew as hard as hard might be, for he deemed his 
might waxen by this alliance of his. 

Master Howard's live stock was very wild that 
summer, and on a morning early the herdsman 
came in, and Olaf asked how it went with him. 
" So it goes," quoth he, " that there is a deal of 
the beasts missing, and I may not do both at once, 
seek for those that are lost, and heed them that 
are found." " Keep a good heart, fellow," answered 
Olaf, " heed what thou hast, and I will go seek the 

Now by this time he was grown to be the most 
hopeful of men, and the goodliest to look on, and 
both big and strong : he was eighteen winters old. 

So Olaf took his axe in his hand, and went down 
along by the firth till he came to Loonsere, and 
there he sees that those sheep are all gotten to the 
place where they first came aland ; so he turned 
toward the house early in the morning-tide, and 
smote on the door, and thither came Sigrid, and 
greeted him well, and well he took her greeting. 

But now when they had talked awhile, Sigrid 
said : " Lo a boat coming over the firth, and 
therein I see clearly Thorbiorn Thiodrekson and 
Vakr his kinsman ; and I can see their weapons 
lying forward in the prow, and Warflame is there, 
Thorbiorn's sword ; and now either he will have 
done an ill deed or be minded for one ; wherefore I 
pray thee Olaf meet him not ; this long while have 

Howard the Halt. 1 5 

ye been ill seen one of another, and belike matters 
will not be bettered since ye were at the apprais- 
ing of the goods for me from Bathstead." 

Olaf answered : " I fear not Thorbiorn whiles I 
have done him no wrong, and but a little way will 
I run before him alone." 

" A brave word of thine," she said, " that thou, 
a lad of eighteen winters, must needs yield nought 
before one who is any man's match in fight, and 
beareth a sword whose stroke will not be stayed 
by aught ; yea, and I deem that if their intent is 
to meet thee, as indeed my mind forebodes me, 
wicked Vakr will not sit idle by the fight." 

Olaf answered : " I have no errand with Thor- 
biorn, and I will not go meet them, yet if we do 
meet, thou shalt have to ask after brave deeds if 
need there be." 

" Nay, I shall never ask thereof," said Sigrid. 

Then Olaf sprang up quickly, and bade her live 
long and happy, and she bade him farewell ; and 
therewith he went down to the foreshore whereas 
lay the sheep ; and Thorbiorn and Vakr were 
come to land now, over against that very place ; 
so he went his ways down to the boat and met it, 
and drew it up under them on to the beach. Thor- 
biorn greeted Olaf well, and he took the greeting, 
and asked whither away, and Thorbiorn said he 
would go see his sister Thordis. " So go we all 
together," said Olaf; "it falleth amiss, because I 
must needs drive my sheep home ; and verily it 
might well be said that sheep-drovers shall be 
getting great men in Icefirth if thou shouldst lower 
thyself so far as to take to that craft." 

1 6 The Saga Library. 

" Nay, I heed that nought," said Thorbiorn. 

Now there was a big heap of wood on the beach, 
whereon lay a great forked cudgel with the ends 
broken off : this Olaf caught up and bore in his 
hand, and so drave the sheep before him, and they 
went their ways all together. 

Thorbiorn talked with Olaf, and was as merry 
as might be : but Olaf found that they would ever 
be hanging back ; so he looked to that, and then 
on they went all abreast, till they came past the 
knoll, and there the ways sundered. 

Then Thorbiorn turned about and said : " Kins- 
man Vakr, there is no longer any need to put off 
that which we would do." 

Olaf saw the intent of them, and turned up on 
to the bent, and they set on him from below : 
Olaf warded himself with the cudgel, but Thorbiorn 
smote hard and oft with the sword Warflame, and 
sliced away the cudgel as if it had been a stalk of 
angelica : yet gat they heavy strokes from the 
cudgel whiles it held out ; but when it was all 
smitten to pieces Olaf took to his axe, and defended 
himself so well that they deemed it doubtful how 
it would go between them ; and they were all 

Now Thordis, Thorbiorn's sister, went out that 
morning of the fight, and heard the noise thereof, 
but might not see aught ; so she sent her foot-page 
to see what was toward ; who came back and told 
her that there were Thorbiorn her brother and 
Vakr her son fighting against Olaf Howardson : so 
she turned back into the house, and told her son 
Skart of these tidings, and bade him go help his 

Howard the Halt. 17 

kinsmen ; but he said : " I am more like to go 
fight for Olaf against them, for I hold it shame for 
three to fall upon one man, they being as like to 
win the day as any four other : I will nowise go." 

Thordis answered : " I was deeming that I had 
two stout-hearted sons ; but sooth is that which is 
said, ' Many a thing lieth long hidden : ' for now I 
know that thou art rather a daughter than a son of 
mine, since thou durst not help thy kin : wherefore 
now shall I show full surely that I am a braver 
daughter than thou art a son." 

Therewith she went away, but he waxed won- 
drous wroth, and he leapt up and caught hold of 
his axe, and ran out, and down along the bent to 
where they were fighting. Thorbiorn saw him, 
and set on all the more fiercely, but Olaf saw him 
not : and as soon as Skart came within reach of 
Olaf he fetched a blow at him with both hands, 
and drave the axe deep in between the shoulders. 
Olaf was about smiting at Thorbiorn, but when 
he got that stroke he turned about with axe raised 
aloft on Skart, who was weaponless now, and 
smote him on the head so that the axe stood in the 
brain : but even therewith was Thorbiorn beside 
Olaf, and smote him into the breast, and that was 
enough for the death of him, and the twain, Skart 
and Olaf, tumbled down dead. 

Then Thorbiorn went up to Olaf and smote him 
across the face so that the front teeth and jaw- 
teeth fell out. Vakr said, "Why dost thou so to a 
dead man ? " 

Thorbiorn answered that it might yet serve him 
somewhat, and he took a clout therewith, and knit 

1 8 The Saga Library. 

up the teeth in it, and kept them. Then they went 
into the house, and told Thordis the tidings ; and 
they were both grievously wounded. 

Thordis was much overcome thereat, and be- 
wailed bitterly that eager egging- on of her son : 
but she gave them help and service there. 

Now are these tidings told far and wide about 
Icefirth ; and all thought it the greatest scathe 
of Olaf, such a defence as he had made withal, as 
the rumour of men told : for herein did Thor- 
biorn well, in that he told everything even as 
it had happened, and gave Olaf his due in the 

So they fared home when they deemed they had 
might thereto, and their weariness had run off, and 
Thorbiorn went to Loonsere and asked for Sigrid : 
but he was told that she had not been seen since 
she went out with Olaf that other morning. She 
was sought for far and wide, but, as the tale goes, 
she was never seen again. 

So Thorbiorn went home and abode in peace at 
his own house. 


HOWARD and Biargey, saith the tale, got 
these tidings of the death of their son 
Olaf, and old Howard sighed heavily 
and went to his bed ; and so say folk that he lay 
there in his bed all the next twelve months, and 
never came out of it. But Biargey took such rede 
that she rowed out to sea every day with Thorhall, 

Howard the Halt. 19 

and worked benights at what there was need to 
work in the house. 

So wear away those seasons, and all is quiet : 
there was no blood-suit after Olaf, and men deemed 
it likely that his kin would never right their case ; 
for Howard was deemed fit for nought, and 
withal he had to do with men mighty, and little 
like to deal fairly. So wear the seasons. 

On a morning it fell that Biargey went to master 
Howard, and asked if he were waking, and he said 
so it was, and asked what she would : she said, 
" I would have thee arise and go to Bathstead, and 
see Thorbiorn ; for it is manly for one who is un- 
meet for hardy deeds not to spare his tongue from 
speaking that which may avail : nor shalt thou 
claim overmuch if he bear himself well." He 
answered : " I see nought good herein ; yet shalt 
thou have thy will." 

So old master Howard goes his way to Bath- 
stead, and Thorbiorn gave him good greeting, and 
he took the same. Then spake old Howard : 
" This is the matter in hand, Thorbiorn, that I am 
come to claim weregild for my son Olaf, whom 
thou slewest sackless." 

Thorbiorn answered : "It is well known, Howard, 
that I have slain many men, and though folk 
called them sackless, yet have I paid weregild for 
none : but whereas thou hast lost a brave son, and 
the matter touches thee so closely, meseemeth it 
were better to remember thee somewhat, were it 
never so little : now here above the garth goeth a 
horse that the lads call Dodderer : grey is he, 
sorebacked, and hath lain cast a long while until 

2O The Saga Library. 

now ; for he is exceeding old : but now he hath 
been fed on chaff these days past, and belike is 
somewhat amended ; come, take him home, and 
keep him if thou wilt." 

Howard reddened, and might not answer aught : 
he gat him gone straightway, wondrous wroth, and 
Vakr whooped after him as he walked all bent 
down to his boat, where Thorhall had awaited him 

So they rowed home, and Howard went to his 
bed, and lay down, and never stood up for the next 

This was heard of far and wide, and folk deemed 
that Thorbiorn had again showed his evil heart 
and unrighteousness in that answer. And so wear 
the seasons. 


BUT the next summer Thorbiorn rides to 
the Thing with his men from Icefirth. And 
on a day Biargey goes again to talk to 
Howard, and he asked her what she would ; she 
answered : " I would have thee ride to the Thing, 
and see if aught may be done in thy case." He 
answered : " This is clean contrary to my mind : 
thinkest thou that I have not been mocked enough 
of Thorbiorn my son's bane, but that he must needs 
mock me also whereas all the chieftains are gathered 
together ? " 

Said she: "It will not fare so. This I guess, 
that thou wilt have someone to help thee in thy 

Howard the Halt. 21 

case, Guest Oddleifson to wit : and if it hap, as I 
think, that he bring about peace between thee and 
Thorbiorn, so that he shall have to pay thee much 
money, then meseemeth he will let many men be 
thereby, and there will be a ring of men round 
about, and thou wilt be within the ring when Thor- 
biorn payeth thee the money : and now if it come 
to pass that Thorbiorn, before he pay thee that 
money, doeth somewhat to grieve the soul in thee, 
trying thee sorely, then shalt thou get thee gone 
at thy most speed ; and then if it be that thou art 
lighter of heart than thou mightest look for, thou 
shalt not make peace in thy suit ; because then 
thou mayest hope, as unlike as it looketh, that 
Olaf our son shall be avenged : but if thou wax 
not light-hearted, then go not away from the Thing 
unappeased, because then no avenging shall be." 

Said Howard : "I know not what all this 
meaneth ; but if I knew that Olaf my son should 
be avenged, nought should I heed any toil herein." 


SO she gat him ready, and he rode his ways : 
somewhat bent was the old man as he came 
to the Thing ; by which time were the 
booths tilted, and all men come. 

He rode to a great booth, even that which was 
owned of Steinthor of Ere, a mighty man and a 
great chief, of the stoutest and best heart : he leapt 
from his horse, and went into the booth, and there 
sat Steinthor and his men beside him : so Howard 
went up to him, and greeted him well, and well he 

22 The Saga Library. 

took his greeting, and asked him who he was. 
Howard told of himself. Said Steinthor: "Art 
thou he who had that well-renowned son whom 
Thorbiorn slew, and whose stout defence is in all 
men's mouths ? " 

Howard said that even so it was : " And I will, 
master, that thou give me leave to abide in thy 
booth throughout the Thing." 

He answered : " Surely I will give thee leave ; 
but be quiet, and abstain from meddling ; for the 
lads here are ever gamesome, and thou hast a 
great sorrow in thine heart, and art little fit to 
hold thine own, an old man, and a helpless." 

The tale tells that old Howard took to himself a 
berth somewhere within the booth, and lay down 
there, and never stirred thence, nor ever fell into 
talk with any until the Thing was far spent : but 
on a morning Steinthor came to him, and said : 
" Why earnest thou hither to lie there like a bedes- 
man and a losel ? " 

Said Howard : " I had it in my mind to seek 
atonement for Olaf my son, but my heart faileth 
me, for Thorbiorn is unsparing of foul words and 

Said Steinthor : "Take my counsel ; go thou to 
Thorbiorn and complain of thy case ; and I deem 
that if Guest goes with thee thou shalt get right- 
ing of Thorbiorn." So Howard arose, and went 
forth all bent, and fared to the booth of Guest and 
Thorbiorn, and went in. Thorbiorn was therein, 
but not Guest : so Howard was greeted of Thor- 
biorn, who asked him why he was come thither. 
Howard answered : " So mindful am I of the slay- 

Howard the Halt. 23 

ing of Olaf my son that it seemeth to me but newly 
done ; and my errand here is to claim weregild of 
thee for the slaying." 

Thorbiorn answered : " Now give I good rede 
to thee ; come to me at home in my own country, 
and then may I comfort thee somewhat : but here 
am I busy over many things, and will not have 
thee whining against me." 

Howard answered : "If thou wilt do nought 
now, I have well proven that thou wilt do none 
the more in thine own country : but I was deem- 
ing that someone might perchance back my case 

Then spake Thorbiorn : " Hear a wonder ! " 
said he, "he is minded now to draw men upon me! 
get thee gone, and never henceforward speak to 
me hereof if thou wilt be unbeaten." 

Then Howard waxed very wroth, and turned 
away from the booth, saying : " Too old am I 
now, but those days of mine have been, wherein I 
little looked to bear such wrong." 

Now as he went, came men meeting him, Guest 
Oddleifson to wit, and his folk. Howard was so 
wroth that he scarce heeded where he went, nor 
would he meet those men, so home he went to his 
booth ; but Guest cast a glance at the man going 
past him. 

Howard went to his berth, and lay down and 
drew a heavy sigh : so Steinthor asked him how 
he had fared, and he told him. Steinthor answered : 
" Such deeds are injustice unheard of! great shame 
to him may be looked for some time or other." 

Now when Guest came back to his booth he was 

24 The Saga Library. 

well greeted of Thorbiorn, but he said : " What 
man went from the booth even now ? " 

Thorbiorn answered : " A wondrous question 
from so wise a man ! More come and go here- 
about than I may make account of." 

Guest answered : " Yea, but this man was un- 
like to other men : a man big-grown, albeit some- 
what old and haltfoot, yet most manly of mien 
withal ; and meseemed he was full of sorrow and 
little-ease and heart-burning : and so wroth he was 
that he heeded not whither he went : yea, and the 
man looked lucky too, and not one to be lightly 
dealt with." 

Answered Thorbiorn : " This will have been old 
Howard, my Thingman." 

Guest asked: "Was it his son that thou slewest 
sackless ? " 

" Yea, sure," said Thorbiorn. 

Said Guest : "How deemest thou that thou 
hast held to the promise that thou madest me 
when I gave thee my sister ? " 

Now there was a man named Thorgils, called 
Hallason after his mother, a man most renowned 
and great-hearted, who abode as then with Guest his 
kinsman, and this was in the days of his fast- waxing 
fame. Him Guest bade go after Howard and bid 
him thither ; so he went to Howard's booth, and 
told him that Guest would see him : but Howard 
said : " Loth am I to go and endure the injustice 
of Thorbiorn and his shameful words." 

Thorgils bade him fare. " Guest will back thy 
case," said he. So Howard went, how loth soever 
he were, and came to Guest, who stood up to 

Howard the Halt. 25 

meet him, and welcomed him, and set him down 
beside him, and spake : "Now shalt thou, Howard, 
begin, and tell forth all thy dealings with Thor- 

He did so, and when he had spoken, Guest 
asked of Thorbiorn if that were in any wise true : 
and Thorbiorn said it was no vain babble. Then 
said Guest : " Heard any of suchlike injustice ! 
Now hast thou two choices ; either I break our 
bargain utterly, or thou shalt suffer me alone to 
doom and deal in this your case." 

To this said Thorbiorn yea, and so they all 
went from out the booth. Then Guest called to 
him a many men, and they stood in a ring round 
about, but some stood together within the ring, and 
talked the matter over. Then spoke Guest : " I 
may not, Thorbiorn, award as much money as 
ought to be paid, because thou hast not where- 
withal to pay it : but I award a threefold mangild 
for the slaying of Olaf. But as to the other wrong 
thou hast done to Howard, I offer thee, Howard, 
that thou come to me every spring and autumn 
tide, and I will honour thee with gifts, and will 
promise never to fail thee whiles we both live." 

Thorbiorn said : " This will I yeasay, and will 
pay him at my ease at home in the country-side." 

" Nay," said Guest, " thou shalt pay all the 
money here at the Thing, and pay it well and 
duly : but I myself will lay down one mangild." 

And this same he delivered out of hand well paid 
down. But Howard sat down, and poured the 
money into his cloak-skirt. Thereon Thorbiorn 
went thereto, and paid up little by little, and when 

26 The Saga Library. 

he had got through one mangild he said he had 
come to the end of what he had. Guest bade him 
not to shirk the matter, and thereon Thorbiorn 
took a folded cloth, and undid it, and spake : 
" Surely now he will not deem himself paid short 
if he have this withal." 

And thereon he drave it on to Howard's face so 
that the blood fell adown him. " Lo there," said 
he, " the teeth and jaw-teeth of Olaf thy son ! " 

Then Howard beheld how these were tumbling 
into his cloak-skirt, and he leapt up mad-wroth, 
and the pennies rolled this way and that, and staff 
in hand he rushed at the ring of men, and thrust 
his staff so hard against the breast of one, that he 
fell aback, and lay long in a swoon : then leapt 
Howard over the ring of men, and touched none, 
and came down afar from any, and so ran home to 
his booth like a young man ; but when he came to 
the booth, he would give no word to any, but cast 
himself down and lay as one sick. 

After these things spake Guest unto Thorbiorn : 
"No man is like to thee for evil heart and wrong- 
doing : nor can I see aught into a man if thou dost 
not repent it one day, thou or thy kin ? " 

And so wroth and wood was Guest, that he rode 
straight from the Thing to Icefirth, and took away 
Thorgerd from Thorbiorn : whereby Thorbiorn 
and all his kin deemed their honour sorely minished, 
but nought might they do. Guest said withal that 
Thorbiorn would have to abide a greater shame 
yet, and one more meet for him ; and he rideth 
therewith away to Bardstrand with his kinswoman 
and a deal of money. 

Howard the Halt. 27 

The tale tells that Howard got him away home 
after these things and was by now exceeding stiff : 
but Steinthor said to him or ever they parted : " If 
ever thou need a little help, Howard, come thou 
to me." 

Howard thanked him, and so rode home, and lay 
down in his bed and abode there the third twelve- 
month and was by then waxen much stiffen 

Biargey still held to her wont of rowing out to sea 
every day along with Thorhall. 


ON a day in summer as they rowed out to 
sea they saw a craft coming east up the 
firth, and they knew that it was Thorbiorn 
and his homemen. Then spake Biargey : "Now 
shall we take up our lines, and row to meet Thor- 
biorn, for I would see him : thou shalt row towards 
the cutter's beam, and I will talk with him a little, 
whiles thou rowest about the craft." They did so 
and rowed toward the cutter : Biargey cast a word 
at Thorbiorn, hailing him, and asking him whither 
he would : he said he was going west to Vadil : 
" Thither is come out Sturla my brother, and Thio- 
drek his son, and I shall flit them down hither to 

" How long wilt thou be gone, master ?" said she. 

" Nigh upon a week," said Thorbiorn. 

Thorhall had by now rowed all about the cutter, 
and so when she had what she wanted they bent to 
their oars, and rowed off all they might. Then 
cried Thorbiorn : " To the devil with the wretched 

28 The Saga Library. 

hag ! let us straightway row after them, and slay 
him and maim her." 

Then spake Brand : " Lo here again the truth of 
what men say of thee, that thou wilt never spare to 
do all the ill thou mayest : but I shall help them 
with all my might ; so thou wilt have a dear bargain 
of it." So, what with Brand's words, what with 
their having by now gotten far away, Thorbiorn 
kept quiet and went his ways. 

Now spake Biargey : " As little as it seemeth 
likely, I deem that there will be an avenging for 
Olaf my son ; now will we not go straight home." 

" Whither away ? " said Thorhall. 

" We will go see Valbrand my brother," said she. 
Now he dwelt at Valbrandstead, a very old man in 
these days, but once of great renown : two sons he 
had, exceeding hopeful, but young in years, Torfi 
and Eyjulf to wit. 

So they make no stay till they came there : Val- 
brand was abroad in the home-mead and many men 
with him ; he went to meet his sister, and greeted 
her, and prayed her to abide ; but she said : "It 
may not be, I must be home to-night." 

" What wilt thou, sister ? " said he. 

She said : " I will that thou lend me thy seal- 

" Here be three," he said : " one old and grown 
untrustworthy now, though once it was strong enow, 
and two new and unproven : which wilt thou, two 
or three ? " 

She said : " The new ones will I have, but I will 
not risk taking the old : get them ready against I 
send for them." 

Howard the Halt. 29 

He said that so it should be, and therewith they 
went away. 

Then said Thorhall : " Whither now ?" She an- 
swered : " We will go see Thorbrand my brother." 
He dwelt at Thorbrandstead and was now very old : 
he had two sons, young and hopeful, hight Odd and 

So when they came thither Thorbrand gave them 
good greeting and bade them abide : she said it 
might not be. 

" What wilt thou then, sister ? " said he. 

Quoth she : " I would have the loan of thy trout- 

He answered : " Here have I three, one very old, 
and two new that have not been used : which wilt 
thou, two or three ? " 

She said she would have but those new ones, and 
they parted therewith. Then they go their ways, 
and Thorhall asked : " Whither now ? " 

" Let us go see master Asbrand, my brother," 
said she. He dwelt at Asbrandstead, and was the 
eldest of those brethren, and had wedded a sister of 
master Howard : he had a son named Hallgrim, 
young of years, but both big and strong; ill-favoured, 
but most manlike to behold. So when Biargey 
came there, Asbrand greeted her, and bade her 
abide, but she said she must home that evening. 
" What wilt thou," said he, " so seldom as thou 
comest to see thy kin ? " 

" A little errand," said she ; " we be unfurnished of 
turf-tools, so I would that thou lend me thy turf-axe." 

He answered, smiling : " Here be two, one exceed- 
ing rusty, old and notched, and now deemed fit for 

3O The Saga Library. 

nought ; but the other new and big, though unused 
as yet." 

She said she would have the new one when she 
came to fetch it : he answered that she should have 
her way : and so they fare home to Howardstead 
in the evening. 


N" OW weareth certain days, until Biargey 
thought she might look for Thorbiorn's 
return from the west ; then on a day she 
went to Howard's bed, and asked him if he slept : 
he sat up thereon, and sang : 

Never sleep besetteth 
Mine eyelids since that morning 
Grief driveth the ship-dweller 
To din of steel a-meeting 
Never since the sword-stems 
Wrought that brunt of bucklers ; 
E'en those that slew my Olaf 
Utterly unguilty. 

" Full surely," said she, " that is a huge lie, that 
thou hast not slept for three years long : but now 
is it time to arise, and make thee as valiant as may 
be, if thou wouldst avenge Olaf thy son ; for never 
will he be avenged in thy lifetime but if that be to- 

So when he heard her words he leapt up from his 
bed and forth on to the floor, and sang : 

Once more amid my old age 
I ask for quiet hearing, 
Although the speech of song-craft 
Scarce in my heart abideth 

Howard the Halt. 31 

Since then when first I wotted 
Of weapon-god downfallen. 
O son, how surely wert thou 
The strength of all my welfare ! 

And now was Howard as brisk as might be, and 
halt no longer : he went to a big chest that was full 
of weapons, and unlocked it, and set a helm on his 
head, and did on him a strong byrny : then he looked 
up, and saw a mew flying across the window, and 
therewith he sang a stave : 

High-screaming, hail-besmitten, 

Lo here the bird of slaughter, 

Who coming to the corpse-sea 

Craveth his meal of morning ! 

E'en so in old days bygone 

From the old tree croaked the raven 

When the sworn hawks of the slaughter 

The warrior's mead went seeking. 

H e armed himself speedily and deftly, and arrayed 
Thorhall also with goodly weapons: and so when 
they were ready he turned to Biargey and kissed 
her, saying it was not all so sure when they should 
meet again. 

So she bade him farewell : "No need to egg thee 
on to the avenging of Olaf our son, for I wot that 
in thee might and a hardy heart are fellows." 

So they parted : but those twain went down to 
the sea, and ran out a six-oared boat, and took the 
oars, and made no stay till they came off the stead 
of Valbrand : there a long tongue of the ere runneth 
out into the sea, and there they laid their boat : then 
Howard bade Thorhall watch the boat while he 
went up to the stead ; and he had a spear in his 
hand, a noble weapon : but when he came up on to 

32 The Saga Library. 

the home-mead there were the father and sons : the 
brethren were stripped and raking up the hay, and 
had taken off their shoes, and had laid them down 
in the meadow beside them ; and they were high 

So Valbrand went to meet Howard, and greeted 
him well, bidding him abide : he said it might 
not be : 

" For I am come to fetch the seal-nets that thou 
didst lend to my wife, thy sister." 

Then went Valbrand to his sons, and said to 
them : " Hither is come Howard your kinsman, 
and he is so arrayed as if he had some mighty deed 
on hand." 

But when they heard that, they cast by their 
rakes and ran to their clothes, and when they came 
to take their shoes, lo ! they were shrunken with 
the sun : nevertheless they thrust their feet into 
them at their speediest, so that they tore the skin 
off their heels, and when they came home their 
shoes were full of blood. 

Valbrand gave his sons good weapons, and said : 
"Follow Howard well, and think more on your 
vengeance than on what may come after." 

Then they went their ways to Thorbrandstead, 
and there also were Odd and Thorir speedily 
arrayed. Thence fared they till they came to 
Asbrandstead, and there Howard claimed his turf- 
cutter, whereon. Hallgrim his kinsman arrayed 
himself to go with him, in whose company also 
went one An, a homeman of Asbrand, who did 
housecarle's service, and was fosterer of Hall- 

Howard the Halt. 33 

So when they were ready they went to where the 
boat lay, and Thorhall greeted them well. They 
were now eight in company, and each more warrior- 
like than the other. Now spake Hallgrim to 
Howard his kinsman, saying : " Why wentest thou 
from home, kinsman, lacking both sword and axe?" 

He answered : " Maybe we shall fall in with 
Thorbiorn Thiodrekson, and then after our parting 
thou shalt speak another word, for most like I shall 
have the sword Warflame, the best of weapons." 

Then they rejoiced, blessing the word of his 
mouth : " For much lies upon it that we fall to 
work in manly wise." 

The day was now far spent, and so they ran out 
the boat, and leapt into her, and fell a-rowing : and 
even therewith they saw a great flock of ravens 
flying on before them over the tongue of the ere 
that lay ahead : then sang Howard this stave : 

A sign I deem yon blood-fowl 
Over the ere a-s weeping ; 
Since even now fat-feeding 
To Odin's fowl I promised. 
All we shall have to hearken, 
O Hallgrim, to Hild's uproar, 
And well are we, O fellows, 
Whom happy hour awaiteth. 

They fared over the sound, and out in the firth it 
blew hard, whereby they shipped many a sea for- 
ward : but they fell to work in manly wise, and 
made no stay till they came off Bathstead : thereat 
was a place good to lay a craft in, for Thorbiorn 
had let make a goodly haven there, and had had 
all cleaned and cleared out right up to land : the 
shore went down steep into the sea, and a cutter 


34 The Saga Library. 

might lie there, or a craft bigger yet, if need were : 
great whale-ribs also were laid down there for 
slips, and the ends of them made fast with big 
stones : nor needed any man be wet going off 
board or on, were the ship bigger or lesser. 

But above this haven ran a ridge of shingle, 
above which stood a great boat-house well found 
in all wise ; and on the other hand above the ridge 
on one side was a big pool ; from the boat-house 
one might not see the foreshore, but from the 
shingle-ridge both boat-house and foreshore were 
in sight. 

So when they came to land they leapt from the 
boat, and Howard spake, saying : " We will bear 
the boat up over the ridge unto the pool, and we 
ourselves also will be up the other side of the 
ridge, so that they may not see us at once ; neither 
will we be over hasty in our hunting : let none 
leap up before I give the word." And now was it 
quite dusk. 


NOW must we tell how Thorbiorn and his 
fellows fare from the west, ten in company 
in a cutter : Sturla was there, and Thio- 
drek his son, Thorbiorn and Vakr, Brand the 
Strong and two house-carles ; and their cutter was 
deeply laden. 

That same evening they came to Bathstead just 
before dark, and Thorbiorn said : " We will fare 
nought hastily ; we will let the cutter lie here to- 

Howard the Halt. 35 

night, and bear up nought save our weapons and 
clothes, for the weather is fine and like to be dry : 
and thou, Vakr, shalt bear ashore our weapons." So 
he took their swords first and their spears, and 
bore them up to the boat-house. 

Then said Torfi : " Let us take their swords and 
him that goes with them." 

" Nay, let it be yet," said Howard. But he bade 
Hallgrim go and take the sword Warflame, and 
bring it him : so when Vakr went down again, 
Hallgrim ran and took the sword and brought it 
to Howard, and he drew it forth and brandished 
it aloft. 

Now Vakr came up again, and had laden his 
back with shields and his arms with steel-hoods, and 
he had a helm on his head. So when he was gotten 
to the pool-side they sprang up to take him : but 
he, hearing the clatter of them deemed full surely 
that war was abroad, and was minded to run back 
to his friends with their weapons, but as he turned 
round sharply, his feet stumbled by the pool, so that 
he fell down therein head foremost ; the mud was 
deep there, and the water shallow, and the man 
heavy-laden with all those weapons ; so he might 
not get up again, neither would any there help him, 
and that was Vakr's latter end, that there he died. 
So when they had seen that, they ran down to the 
shingle-ridge, and when Thorbiorn beheld them he 
cast himself into the sea, and struck out from shore. 
Master Howard was the first to see this hap, and he 
ran and cast himself also into the sea, and swam 
after Thorbiorn. 

But of Brand the Strong they say, that rushing 

36 The Saga Library. 

forward, he caught hold of a ship-runner, a great 
whale-rib, and drove it into the head of An, Hall- 
grim's fosterer ; Hallgrim was just come down from 
the ridge when he saw An fall ; so he ran up with 
axe raised aloft, and smote Brand on the head, 
cleaving him down to the shoulders, and it was 
even therewith that Thorbiorn and Howard leapt 
into the sea ; and Hallgrim when he saw it leapt 
in after them. 

Torfi Valbrandson ran to meet Sturla, a big and 
strong man, unmatched in arms, and he had all his 
war-gear on him : so they fought long, and in manly 
wise withal. 


TURN we now to Howard and Thorbiorn : 
they made from land, and a long swim it 
was till they came to a skerry that lay off 
there ; and when Thorbiorn came up on to the 
skerry, Howard was but just off it : that seeth 
Thorbiorn, who being weaponless before him, 
catcheth up a big stone to drive at his head 

But when Howard saw that, it came into his 
mind of how he had heard tell of the Outlands 
that another faith was put forth there than the faith 
of the Northlands ; and therewith he vowed that if 
any could show him that that faith was better and 
fairer, then would he trow in it if he might but 
overcome Thorbiorn. 

And therewithal he struck out his hardest for 

Howard the Halt. 37 

the skerry. And so as Thorbiorn was a-casting 
the stone, his feet slipped up, for it was slippery on 
the stones, and he fell aback, and the stone fell on 
his breast, so that he was stunned thereby; and 
even therewith came Howard on to the skerry, and 
thrust him through with the sword Warflame. 
Then was Hallgrim also come on to the skerry ; 
but Howard smote Thorbiorn across the face, and 
clave out the teeth and jaw-teeth of him, and down 
right through. Hallgrim asked wherefore he did 
so to a dead man ; but Howard said : " I had this 
stroke in my mind when Thorbiorn smote me in 
the face with that cloth knit up ; for then the teeth 
that he had smitten from Olaf, my son with this 
same sword, tumbled about me." 

Then they made for the land again. Men 
deemed afterward when that was told them, that 
Howard did valiantly to swim out into the firth, 
not knowing that there was any skerry before 
him : and a very long swim was that even as things 

As they came up toward the shingle-ridge, a 
man came running to meet them with axe raised 
aloft, a man in a blue frock girt into his breeches ; 
they turned toward him, and when they met they 
knew Torfi Valbrandson, and greeted him well, and 
he asked them if Thorbiorn were dead. Then sang 
Howard : 

I drave adown the sword-edge 
To jaw of sword-clash dealer ; 
I set the venomed sword-dew 
Seeking the chieftain's eyen ; 
Nought saw I any shrinking 
In that dweller in the scabbard 

38 The Saga Library. 

Warflame, when his old wielder 
Who once was mighty fell there. 

He asked what their deeds were, and Torfi said 
that Sturla was fallen, and the house-carles, but 
that An was slain withal. Then sang Howard : 

So have we slain full swiftly 
Four of the men who slew him, 
The blood-stained son of Biargey ; 
Brave is the gain we bring you. 
But one of our own fellows 
An, unto earth is fallen 
By bone of sea-wolf smitten 
As Hallgrim sayeth soothly. 

Then they went up to the boat-house, and found 
their fellows, who greeted them well. Then asked 
Eyjulf Valbrandson if they should slay the thralls ; 
but Howard said that the slaying of thralls was no 
revenge for Olaf his son. " Let them abide here 
to-night, and watch that none steal aught of the 

Then Hallgrim asked what to do now, and 
Howard answered : " We will take the cutter and 
all we deem of avail, and make for under Moon- 
berg to see Liot the champion : somewhat of a 
revenge were there in such a man as that, if we 
might get it done." 

So they take the cutter and manifold good things 
of those kinsmen, and row out along the firth, and 
up to Moonberg. Then spake Howard : "Now 
must we fare wisely. Liot is well ware of himself, 
for he hath ever feuds on hand ; he hath watch 
held over him every night, and lieth in a shut-bed 
bolted every night : an earth-house is there under 
the sleeping-chamber, and the mouth of the same 

Howard the Halt. 39 

cometh up at the back of the houses, and many 
men he hath with him." 

Then said Torfi Valbrandson : " My rede it is 
to bear fire to the stead, and burn every man's son 

Howard said it should not be so : "But thou 
and Hallgrim my kinsman shall be upon the house- 
top to watch thence the mouth of the earth-house, 
lest any go out thereby, thee I trust best for this : 
here also be two doors in the front of the stead 
and two doors to the hall : now shall Eyjulf and I 
go in by one, and the brethren Odd and Thorir by 
the other, and so into the hall : but thou Thorhall 
shalt watch the cutter here, and defend it manly if 
there be need thereof." 

So when he had ordered them as he would, they 
go up to the house. There stood a great out- 
bower in the home-mead, and a man armed sat 
under the wall thereof : so when they were drawn 
nigh the same, the man sees them, and springs up 
with the mind to give warning of their coming : 
now Hallgrim went foremost of that company, and 
he shot a spear after that man, and pinned him to 
the house-wall, and there he died on the spear. 
So then they went whither they were minded ; 
Torfi and Hallgrim going to the outgate of the 

40 The Saga Library. 


SO tells the tale that Howard went into the 
hall ; light burned above, but below it was 
dim : so he went into the bedchamber : 
and as it happed the mistress was not yet gone to 
bed, but was yet in the women's bower, and women 
with her, and the bed-chamber was not locked. So 
Howard smote with the flat of his sword on the 
door, and Liot waked therewith, and asked who 
made that clatter, and so master Howard named 

" Why art thou there, carle Howard ? " said Liot, 
" we were told the day before yesterday that thou 
wert hard at death's door." 

Howard answered : " Of another man's death 
mayest thou first hear : for hearken, I tell thee of 
the death of thy brethren, Thorbiorn and Sturla." 

When he heard that, he sprang up in his bed, and 
caught down a sword that hung over him, and cried 
on the men in the hall to arise and take their 
weapons : but Howard leapt up into the bed- 
chamber, and smote Liot on the left shoulder ; but 
Liot turned sharply therewith, and the sword 
glanced from the shoulder, and tore down the arm, 
and took it off at the elbow joint : Liot leapt forth 
from the chamber with brandished sword, with the 
mind to hew down Howard ; but then was Eyjulf 
come up, and he smote him on the right shoulder, 
and struck off his hand, and there they slew Liot. 

Then arose great uproar in the hall, and Liot's 
house-carles would stand up and take to their 

Howard the Halt. 41 

weapons ; but now were Thorbrand's sons come in, 
and here and there men got a scratch or a knock. 
Then spake Howard : " Let all be as quiet as may 
be, and do ye no manner of mischief, or else will 
we slay every man's son of you, one on the heels 
of the other." 

So they deemed it better to be all quiet ; nor 
had they much sorrow of Liot's death, though they 
were of his house. 

So those fellows turned away, nor would Howard 
do more therein. Torfi and Hallgrim came to 
meet them, for they were about going in ; and they 
asked what had been done ; so Howard sang a 

stave : 

Wrought good work Geirdi's offspring 
On grove of water's sunshine, 
Beheld I Knott there brandish 
The blood-ice sharp and bitter ; 
Eyjolf was fain of edge-play 
With eager kin of warriors ; 
The wary one, the well-known 
Would deal out flame of war-sheen. 

Then they went down to the cutter, and Thor- 
hall greeted them well there. 

Torfi Valbrandson asked what to do now. Said 
Howard : " Now shall we seek after some safe- 
guard ; for though the revenge be not as great as 
I would, yet shall we not be able to keep ourselves 
after this work ; for there are many of Thorbiorn's 
kin of great account : and the likeliest thing I deem 
it to go to Steinthor of Ere ; for he of all men has 
promised to help me in my need." 

So they all bade him look to it, and they would 
do his will, and not depart from him till he deemed 

42 The Saga Library. 

it meet. So then they put forth into the firth and 
lay hard on their oars, but Howard sat by the 
tiller. Then spake Hallgrim, bidding Howard 
sing somewhat ; and he sang : 

How have all we, O Hallgrim, 
Well wreaked a mighty vengeance 
On Thiodrek's son ! full surely 
We never shall repent it. 
For Thorbiorn's sake the ship-lords 
In storm of steel were smitten ; 
And I wot that the people's wasters 
Yet left would fain repay us. 


OF their voyage is nought to tell till they 
come to Ere ; and it was then the time of 
day whenas Steinthor was sitting at table 
with his men : so they went into the hall with their 
weapons, four in company ; and Howard went 
before Steinthor, and greeted him ; Steinthor took 
his greeting well, and asked who he was, and he 
said he was called Howard. 

" Wert thou in our booth last summer ? " 
He said that so it was. Then said Steinthor : 
" Lads, have ye seen any man less like to what 
he is now than the man he was then ? Meseems he 
might scarce go staffless from booth to booth, and 
we deemed him like to be a man bedridden, such 
grief of heart lay upon him : but now a wight man 
under weapons he seemeth to be. What ! tell ye 
any tidings ? " 

Howard answered: "Tidings we tell of: the 

Howard the Halt. 43 

slaying of Thorbiorn Thiodrekson, and his brethren 
Liot and Sturla, sons of Thiodrek, of Brand the 
Strong and the seven of them." 

Steinthor answered : " Great tidings ye tell : who 
is it hath done this, and smitten down these the 
greatest of champions, these so mighty men ? " 

Howard spake and said that he and his kinsmen 
had done it. Then spake Steinthor, and asked 
where Howard would seek for safeguard after such 
great deeds. Said Howard : " I was minded for 
that which has now come to pass, to wit, to come 
unto thee, for methought thou saidst last summer 
at the Thing that if ever I needed some little help 
I should come to thee no later than to other 

Steinthor answered : " I know not when thou 
mayest deem thyself in want of great help if now 
thou deemest thy need but a little one ; but thou 
mightest well think that I were no good friend 
in need, if I were slow to answer thee herein : 
neither shall it be so. I will bid thee, Howard, to 
abide here with thy fellows till this matter is 
brought to an end ; and I promise to right your 
case for you all : for meseemeth ye are such men, 
that he will have the better part who taketh you to 
him ; nor is it sure that such doughty men as ye be 
are lightly to be gotten : forsooth matters have 
gone herein more according to right than according 
to likelihood." 

Then sang Howard a stave : 

Due is it for the dealers 
Of Firth's-sun to be stirring 
If they be fain to further 

44 The Saga Library. 

The folk of Valkyrs' fire ; 
For the pride of Icefirth people 
Men tell hath had a down -fall 
By a blow that bodeth unpeace, 
By sackless sword-stems smitten. 

They thanked Steinthor for his noble bidding ; 
and he bade take their clothes and weapons, and 
get them dry clothes ; and when Howard did off 
his helm, and put his byrny from him, he sang : 

Laughed the lords of bloodwolf 
Loud about my sorrow 
When with steel-shower smitten 
Fell my son the well-loved. 
Well, since Odin's woodmen 
Went along the death-road 
Otherwise wolf-wailing 
Echoeth o'er the mountains. 

Steinthor bade Howard go to the bench and sit 
over against him, and to marshal those fellows be- 
side him, and Howard did so, marshalling his kins- 
man Hallgrim inward from him, and then inward 
yet sit Thorbrand's sons Thorir and Odd ; but out- 
ward from Howard sit Torfi and Eyjulf, the sons 
of Valbrand, then Thorhall, and then the homemen 
who sat there afore. 

And when they sat down Howard sang a stave : 

In this house, O Hallgrim, 
We shall have abiding ; 
War-gale we deny not 
Warriors' wrath that bringeth ; 
Yet that slaying surely 
Unto straw shall tumble 
Scarce for those spear-heeders 
Shall I spend my substance. 

Then said Steinthor : " Easy to hear of thee that 

Howard the Halt. 45 

things are going after thy will ; and so forsooth 
would it be, if there were no blood-feud after such 
bold and mighty men as were those kinsmen all ; 
who have left behind them such great men to follow 
up the feud." 

Howard said that he heeded not the feud, and 
that there was an end from henceforth of sorrow 
or grief in his heart, neither should he think any 
end to the case aught but well. He was as glad 
and merry with every child of man there as if he 
were young again. Now are these tidings heard 
of far and wide, and were deemed to have fallen 
out clean contrary to what was like to have been. 
So there they sat at eve with master Steinthor 
lacking neither plenteous company nor goodly 
cheer; and there were no fewer there than sixty men 
defensible. Leave we them now a-sitting at Ere 
with master Steinthor in good welcome, and costly 


LIOT was the name of a man who dwelt at 
Redsand ; he was called Holmgang-Liot : 
he was both big and strong, and the greatest 
of Holmgang- fighters. Thorbiorn Thiodrekson had 
had his sister to wife : it is said of him that he was 
a most unjust man, who had had his axe in the 
head of every man who would not yield all to his 
will ; nor was there any who might hold his head 
up in freedom against him all around Redsand, and 
far and wide otherwhere. 

Now there was one called Thorbiorn, who dwelt 

46 The Saga Library. 

at a stead called Ere, a man well stricken in years, 
a wealthy man, but of no great heart : two sons he 
had, one called Grim, and the other Thorstein. 

Now as tells the tale, Liot and Thorbiorn had a 
water-meadow in common, a right good possession, 
which was so divided betwixt them that they should 
have it summer and summer about : but the brook 
which flooded the meadow in spring ran below 
Liot's house, and there were water-hatches therein, 
and all was well arrayed. But so it fell out that 
whensoever it was Thorbiorn's turn for the meadow 
he gat no water, and at last it came to this, that 
Liot gave out that the meadow was none of Thor- 
biorn's, and he were best not dare to claim it ; and 
when Thorbiorn heard that, he deemed well that 
Liot would keep his word. It was but a little way 
between their houses, so on a day they met, and 
Thorbiorn asked Liot if he would verily take his 
meadow from him. Liot answered and bade him 
speak not another word of it : "It is not for thee 
any more than for others to go whining against 
what I will have ; do one of two things : either be 
well content with my will herein, or I drive thee 
away from thine own, and thou wilt have neither 
the meadow nor aught else." 

So when Thorbiorn saw Liot's injustice, and 
whereas he had wealth and to spare, he bought the 
meadow at Liot's own price, paying him sixty hun- 
dreds then and there ; wherewith they parted. 

But when those lads his sons heard hereof, they 
were full evil content, saying that it was the greatest 
robbery of their heritage to have to buy what was 
their own. 

Howard the Halt. 47 

And this thing was heard of far and wide. 

Now those brethren kept their father's sheep. 
Thorstein being of twelve winters, and Grim of 
ten : and on a day in the early winter they went 
to the sheep-houses ; for there had been a great 
snow-storm, and they would wot whether all the 
sheep were come home. Now herewith it befell that 
Liot had gone that morning to see to his drifts ; 
for he was a man busy in his matters ; so just as 
the lads came to the sheep-house they saw how 
Liot came up from the sea shore ; then spake Grim 
to Thorstein his brother : "Seest thou Holmgang- 
Liot yonder, coming up from the sea ? " 

" How may I fail to see him ?" said Grim. 

Then said Thorstein : ' Great wrong hath he 
done to us and to others, and I have it in my mind 
to avenge it if I might." 

Said Grim : " An unwise word that thou wouldst 
do a mischief to such a champion as is Liot, a man 
mightier than four or five men might deal with, 
even were they full-grown : this is no game for 
children." Thorstein answered : " It availeth not 
to stay me, I will follow him all the same ; but thou 
art likest to thy father, and wilt be a robbing-stock 
for Liot like many others." 

Grim answered : " Whereas this hath got into 
thy head, kinsman, for as little avail as I may be 
to thee, I will help thee all I may." " Then is it well 
done of thee," said Thorstein, "and maybe that 
things will follow our right" Now, they bore hand- 
axes little but sharp. There they stand, and bide 
till Liot makes for the sheep-house : he passed by 
them quickly, having a poleaxe in his hand, and 

48 The Saga Library. 

so went on his way, making as if he saw not the 
lads ; but when he was even passing by them 
Thorstein smote on his shoulder ; the axe bit not, 
but so great was the stroke that the arm was put 
out of joint at the shoulder. But when Liot saw 
(as he deemed) that the lads would bait him, he 
turned on them, and hove up his axe to smite 
Thorstein ; but even as he hove it aloft, ran Grim 
in on him, and smote the hand from him above the 
wrist, and down fell hand and axe together. Short 
space then they left betwixt their strokes ; nor is 
aught more likely to be told hereof, than that there 
fell Holmgang-Liot, and neither of them hurt. 

So they buried him in the snowdrift and left 
him there ; and when they came home their father 
was out in the doorway; and he asked them what 
made them so late, and why their clothes were 

They told of the slaying of Liot. He asked if 
they had slain him ; and they said that so it was. 
Then said he : " Get ye gone, luckless wretches ! 
ye have wrought a most unhappy deed, and have 
slain the greatest of lords and our very chieftain ; 
and this withal have ye brought to pass, that I shall 
be driven from my lands and all that I have, and 
ye will be slain, and that is right well." 

And therewith he rushed out away from the 

Said Grim : " Let us have nothing to do with 
the old devil, so loathly as he goeth on ! to hear 
how he goeth on, the sneaking wretch ! " 

Thorstein answered : " Nay, let us go find him, 
for I doubt me he is nought so wroth as he would 

Howard the Halt. 49 

make believe." So they go to him, and Thorbiorn 
spake gladly to them, and bade them bide him there ; 
then he went home, and was away but a little while 
till he came back with two horses well arrayed ; so 
he bade them leap a-horseback. " I will send you," 
said he, "to Steinthor of Ere, my friend, whom ye 
shall bid to take you in ; and here is a gold ring, a 
right dear thing, which ye shall give him : he hath 
oft asked me for it, and never got it, but now it shall 
be free to him because of your necessity." Then the 
old man kissed his sons, and bade them to fare well, 
and that they might all meet again safe and sound. 
Nought is told of their journey till they came unto 
Ere betimes of a morning ; so they went into the 
hall, and it was all hung about and both benches 
were full, and neither game nor glee was lacking. 
They went before Steinthor and greeted him well, 
and well he took their greeting, and asked them 
who they were ; so they told of their names and of 
their father, and withal Thorstein said : " Here is a 
ring which my father sendeth thee, and therewithal 
his greeting, and biddeth thee give us quarters this 
winter, or longer, if we need it." 

Steinthor took the ring, and said : " Tell ye any 
tidings ? " 

They said : " The slaying of Liot, and we have 
slain him." 

Steinthor answered : " Lo here another wonder, 
that two little lads should make an end of such a 
champion as was Liot ! and what was his guilt ? " 
They said what they deemed thereof. Steinthor 
said : " My rede it is that ye go across the floor up 
to Howard, the hoary carle who sits right over 


5o The Saga Library. 

against me, and ask of him whether he will or will 
not take you into his company." 

So do they, and go before Howard ; he greeted 
them well, and asked for tidings, making as if he had 
not heard, and they told him the very innermost 
thereof; and when their tale was done, Howard 
sprang up to meet them, and sang a stave : 

Ye, O fir-stems of the fight-sun, 
Thank we now for manly service ; 
Men by valiant deeds left luckless 
Do I love, and ye are loved. 
Of all men on mould abiding 
Do I deem his slaughter meetest ; 
Let this fearful word go flying 
To my foemen of the westward. 

Howard gave those brethren place outward from 
himself, and they sat there glad and merry. 

These tidings are heard all about Redsand, and 
far and wide otherwhere. Liot was found dead 
there under the wall ; and folk went to Thorbiorn 
and asked him thereof, and Thorbiorn denied not 
that his sons had slain him. But whereas Liot was 
unbeloved in Redsand, and that Thorbiorn said he 
had taken their deed amiss and driven them away, 
wherein the home-men bore him out, there was no 
taking up of the feud as at that time ; and Thor- 
biorn sat at home in peace. 

Howard the Halt. 51 


FALL we now to telling how they sit all to- 
gether at Ere well holden ; very costly it 
was unto Steinthor, so many men as he had, 
and so much as he must expend in his bounteous 

Now there was a man named Atli, who dwelt at 
Otterdale, and was wedded to a sister of Steinthor 
of Ere, Thordis to wit ; he was the smallest of men, 
a very mannikin, and it was said of him that his 
mind was even as his body, and that he was the 
greatest of misers ; yet was he come of great men, 
and was so rich that he might scarce tell his wealth ; 
and Thordis, Steinthor's sister, had been wedded to 
him for his wealth's sake. 

As goes the tale the house at Otterdale was far 
from the highway, and stood on the other side of 
the firth over against Ere. 

Atli was not free enough of his money to keep 
workmen ; he himself worked night and day all he 
might, and he was so self-willed, that he would have 
nought to do with other men either for good or ill. 
He was the greatest husbandman, and had a big 
store-house, wherein were all kinds of goods : there 
were huge piles of dried fish and all kinds of flesh- 
meat, and cheese and all things needful, and in that 
house had he made his bed, and he and his wife slept 
there every night. 

Now tells the tale that on a morning was Stein- 
thor early afoot, and he went to Howard's bed, and 
took him by the foot and bade him stand up ; and 

52 The Saga Library. 

Howard sprang up speedilyand forth on to the floor, 
and when he was arisen his fellows stood up one 
after another, even as their wont was, that all went 
whithersoever one had need to go ; and when they 
were all arrayed they went forth into the home-mead, 
where was Steinthor with certain of his men. Then 
said Howard: " Weare ready,master,tofarewhither- 
so thou wilt have us; and we will follow thee 
heartily, recking or reckless ; but that is left me of 
my pride, that I go not on any journey but if I wot 
whither I be going." 

Steinthor said : " I would fare to Atli my brother- 
in-law, and I would have you bear me fellowship on 
the road." 

So they went down to the sea, where was the 
cutter they had taken from Thorbiorn ; so they ran 
it out and took to their oars, and rowed out into the 
firth. But Steinthor deemed that that company 
took all things with hardy heart 

That morning master Atli arose up early and 
went from his bed ; he was so clad, that he had on 
a white doublet, short and strait. The man was not 
speedy of foot ; he was both a starveling and foul of 
favour, bald and sunken-eyed. He went out and 
looked at the weather ; it was cold and very frosty. 
Now he saw a boat faring thitherward over the firth, 
and nigh come to shore, and he knew master Stein- 
thor his brother-in-law, and was ill-content thereat. 
There was a garth in the home-mead, standing 
somewhat out into the fields ; therein stood a hay- 
stack drawn together from all about : so what must 
Atli do but run into the garth, and tumble the hay 
stack down on himself and lie thereunder. 

Howard the Halt. 53 

But of Steinthor and that company it is to be 
told that they come aland and go up to the house, 
and when they came to the store-house Thordis 
sprang up and greeted well her brother and all of 
them, and said he was seldom seen there. Stein- 
thor asked where was Atli his brother-in-law ; and 
she said he was gone out but a little while ; so 
Steinthor bade seek him, and they sought him about 
the stead and found him not, and so came back and 
told Steinthor. Then said Thordis : " What wilt 
thou of us, kinsman ? " He answered : " I was 
deeming that Atli would have given or sold me some 

Said she : " Meseemeth I have no less to do 
herewith than Atli ; and I will that thou have hence 
what thou wilt." He said that he would take that 
willingly ; so they clear out the store-house, and 
bear what was in it down aboard the cutter till it was 
laden with all kinds of good things. Then said Stein- 
thor : " Now shall ye go back home with the cutter, 
but I will abide behind with my sister ; for I am fain 
to see how my brother-in-law Atli bears himself 
when he cometh back." 

" Meseems, kinsman," said Thordis, " there is no 
good in this ; it will be nothing merry to hear him. 
But do as thou wilt ; only thou shalt promise me to 
be no worse friend to Atli than before, whatsoever 
he may say or do." 

Steinthor said yea to this ; and so she set him 
behind certain hangings where none might see him, 
but the others went their ways back home with the 
cutter ; they had rough weather on the firth, and 
shipped many seas before they came to land. 

54 The Saga Library. 


TURN we now to Atli lying under the hay- 
stack, who, when he saw them depart from 
the shore, crept out from under the stack, 
and was so stiff that he might scarce stand up ; he 
drags himself home to the store-house, and every 
tooth in his head chattered again ; he stared wide 
and wild round about, and seeth that the store- 
house hath been cleared ; then saith he : " What 
robbers have been here ?" 

Thordis answered : " None have robbed here ; 
but here have been Steinthor my brother, and his 
men, and I have given them what thou callest 

Atli answered : " Of all things I shall rue most 
that ever I wedded thee ; wretched man that I am 
for that wedding ! I wot of none worse than is 
Steinthor thy brother, nor greater robbers than 
they of his house. Now is all taken and stolen and 
harried from me, so that we shall soon have to 
take to the road." 

Then said Thordis : " We shall never lack for 
wealth : come thou to bed and let me warm thee 
somewhat, for meseems thou art wondrous cold." 

So he crawled under the bedclothes to her. 
Steinthor deemed his brother-in-law a very starve- 
ling : he had nought on his feet ; his cowl was 
pulled over his head, and came nowhere down 

So Atli nestles under the clothes beside her, and 
is mad of speech, ever scolding at Steinthor, and 

Howard the Halt. 55 

calling him a robber. Then he was silent for 

But when he waxed warm, then said he ; " Sooth 
to say, I have a great treasure in thee, and truly 
no such a noble-minded man may be found as is 
Steinthor my brother-in-law, and that is well be- 
stowed which he hath gotten ; it is even as if I had 
it myself." 

And so he went on a long while praising Stein- 
thor. Then Steinthor came forth to the bed, and 
Atli seeth him, and standeth up and greeteth him. 

Then said Steinthor : " What thinkest thou, 
brother-in-law Atli, have we cleared out thy store- 
house ? " 

Atli answered : " It is most sooth that all is best 
bestowed which thou hast, and I bid thee take all 
thou wilt of my goods, for nought is lacking here : 
thou hast done as most befitteth a chieftain in 
taking to thee those men who have wreaked their 
griefs, and thou wilt be minded to see them through 
it as a great man should." 

Said Steinthor : " Atli, I will bid thee be nought 
so miserly as thou hast been hitherto ; live thy life 
well, and get thee workmen, and mingle with men ; 
I know thee for no paltry man, though thou makest 
thyself such for perverseness sake." 

Atli promised this; and Steinthor went home 
that day, and the brothers-in-law parted in all kind- 
ness. Steinthor cometh home to Ere, and deemeth 
he hath sped well. There they sit at home now, 
and the winter wears : there were holden sturdy 
skin-plays and hall-plays. 

56 The Saga Library. 


THERE was one Swart, a thrall at Ere, a 
big man, and so strong that he had four 
men's might; he was handy about the 
stead, and did much work. Now on a day Stein- 
thor let call this thrall to him, and said : " They 
will have thee in the game with us to-day, for we 
lack a man." Swart answered : " It is idle to bid 
me this, for I have much work to do, and I deem 
not that thy champions will do it for me ; yet I will 
grant thee this if thou wilt." 

So saith it that Hallgrim was matched against 
Swart, and the best one may tell of it is, that every 
time they fell to, Swart went down, and after every 
fall his shoes came off, and he would be a long 
while binding them on again. This went on for 
long in the day, and men made great jeering and 
laughter thereat ; but Howard sang a stave : 

The lords of sea-king's stallion, 
Valbrand's sons the doughty, 
Nought so long they louted 
Low o'er shoe-thongs, mind we, 
When we went, O Valkyr, 
Toward my son's avenging, 
And Gylfi's garth swelled round me 
On that day of summer. 

The play was of the best. Hallgrim was then 
eighteen winters old, and was deemed like to be a 
most doughty man by then he came to his full 

So sayeth it that the winter wore, and nought 
befell to tell of, yea and until they were ready to go 
to the Thing. 

Howard the Halt. 57 

Steinthor said he knew not what he would do 
for those fellows ; he would not have them with 
him to the Thing, and he thought it not good to 
let them abide at his house the while. But a 
few days before the Thing he and Atli his brother- 
in-law met, and Atli asked what he was minded to 
do with his guests while the Thing lasted. Stein- 
thor said he knew not where he could bestow them, 
so as to be unafraid for them : " Unless thou take 
them." Atli said : " I will bind myself to take these 
men." " Thou dost well therein," said Steinthor. 
Said Atli : " I will help thee in all thou wilt, so far 
as my might goeth." 

" Right well I trust thee so to do," said Steinthor. 


AFTER this Howard and his fellows went 
their ways with Atli, and came to Otter- 
dale, and there Atli welcomed Howard 
with both hands. Nought lacked there that they 
needed, and Atli made them the most goodly feast : 
there were ten stout men there now. Atli cleared 
out the store-house, and made their beds there, and 
hung up their weapons, and all was arrayed in the 
best wise. 

But Steinthor summoned men to him, and lacked 
neither for friends nor kin, and with great men also 
was he allied : so he rode to the Thing with three 
hundred men, all which were his Thingmen, kin, 
friends, or men allied to him. 

58 The Saga Library. 


THERE was a man hight Thorarin, the 
priest of Dyrafirth in the west country, a 
great chief, and somewhat stricken in years. 
He was the brother of those sons of Thiodrek, but 
by far the thoughtfullest and wisest of them. He 
had heard of these tidings and of the slaying of his 
brethren and kinsmen, and deemed himself nigh 
touched by it, and that he might not sit idle in the 
matter whereas the blood-feud fell to him most of 
all. So before folk rode to the Thing, he sum- 
moned to him the men of Dyrafirth, his friends 
and kinsfolk. There was one Dyri, next of account 
after Thorarin the priest, and a great friend of his ; 
Thorgrim was the name of his son, a man full 
grown at this time : it is told of him that he was 
both big and strong, and a wizard of the cunningest, 
who dealt much in spells. Now when Thorarin 
laid this matter before his friends, they were of one 
accord in this, that Thorarin and Dyri should ride 
to the Thing with two hundred men ; but Thor- 
grim, Dyri's son, offered himself to compass the 
slaying of Howard, and all those kinsmen and fel- 
lows : he said how the word went that Steinthor of 
Ere had held them through the winter, and that he 
had promised to uphold their case at law to the 
uttermost against such as had the blood-feud after 
those kinsmen. 

Thorgrim said that he knew how Steinthor was 
ridden from home, a great company, to the Thing, 
and that those fellows were gotten to Otterdale to 
Atli the Miser, brother-in-law of Steinthor : "And 

Howard the Halt. 59 

there is nought to hinder our slaying them one on 
the heels of the other." 

So this rede was taken, that Thorgrim should 
ride from home with eighteen men : of whose 
journey is nought to tell till they come to Atli's 
stead in Otterdale early of a morning, and ride into 
a hollow whence they might not be seen from the 
house ; then bade Thorgrim to light down, and 
they did so, and baited their horses ; but Thorgrim 
said that he was so sleepy that he might not sit 
up, so he slept with a skin drawn over his head, 
and was ill at ease in his sleep. 


NOW must we take up the tale of what 
they were about in the house at Otter- 
dale : they slept in the store-house that 
night according to wont, and in the morning they 
were waked, because Atli in his sleep laboured so, 
that none of them might sleep because of it ; for 
he tossed about and breathed heavily, and beat 
about with hand and foot in the bed ; till Torfi 
Valbrandson leapt up and woke him, saying that 
they might not sleep for him and his goings on. 
Then sat up Atli, stroking his bald head. 

Howard asked if aught had been shown to him, 
and he said verily it was so : " Methought I 
went forth from the store-house, and I saw how 
wolves ran over the wold from the south eighteen 
in company, and before the wolves went a vixen 
fox, and so sly a creature as was that, saw I never 
erst ; exceeding ogre-like was it and evil ; it peered 

60 The Saga Library. 

all about, and would have its eyes on everything, 
and right grimly methought all the beasts did 
look. But even as they were come to the stead Torfi 
woke me ; and well I wot that these are fetches of 
men ; so stand we up straightway." 

Nor did Atli depart from his wont, but sprang 
up and cast his cape on him, and so out as swift as 
a bolt is shot, while they take their weapons and 
clothes and array themselves at their briskest ; and 
when they were well-nigh dight, cometh Atli back 
clad in a strong byrny, and with a drawn sword in 
his hand ; then spake Atli : " Most like it is that 
it falleth out now as many guessed it would, to 
wit, that it would avail not Steinthor my brother- 
in-law to find you a harbour here ; but I pray you 
to let me rule in what now lies before us ; and first 
it is my rede that we go out under the house-wall, 
and let them not gore us indoors ; as for fleeing 
away, I deem that hath not come into your heads." 
And they say that so it shall be. 


TELL we now how Thorgrim woke, and was 
waxen hot ; then spake he : "I have been 
up to the house and about it awhile ; but 
all was so dim to me that I wot not what shall be- 
fall me ; yet let us go home to the house : meseems 
we should burn them in, so may we the speediest 
bring the end about." 

So they take their weapons, and fare into the 
home-mead. And when Atli and his fellows saw 
the men, Atli said : " Here be come the Dyra- 

Howard the Halt. 61 

firthers, I think, with Thorgrim, Dyri's son, at the 
head of them, the worst man and the greatest 
wizard in Dyrafirth ; he is the most friend of 
Thorarin, who has the blood-feud for Thorbiorn his 
brother : now I am minded, as unlike as it may 
seem, to go against Thorgrim ; but thee, Howard, 
I will have to do deal with two, for thou art proven, 
and a great champion. To Hallgrim thy kinsman 
I allot those twain who are stoutest ; to Torfi and 
Eyjulf, Valbrand's sons, I allot four ; and to Thor- 
brand's sons, Odd and Thorir, other four ; to Thor- 
biorn's sons, Grim and Thorstein, I allot three, and 
to Thorhall and my house-carle each one his man." 

So when Atli had ordered them as he would, 
Thorgrim and his men come on from the south 
toward the house ; and they see that things have 
gone otherwise than they looked for, and that men 
are standing there with weapons, ready to deal 
with them ; then said Thorgrim : " Who may 
know but that Atli the craven hath more shifts 
than we wotted of ; yet all the same shall we go 
against them." 

Then men fell on as they had been ordered ; 
and the first onset was of Atli the Little against 
Thorgrim, smiting at him two-handed with his 
sword ; but never it bit on him. So a while 
they smote, and never bit the sword on Thorgrim. 
Then said Atli : " As a troll art thou, Thorgrim, 
and not as a man, that the iron biteth not on thee." 
Thorgrim answered: " How durst thou say such 
things, whereas I hewed on thee e'en now at my 
best, and the sword bit not on thine evil pilled pate." 

Then seeth Atli that things will not go well on 

62 The Saga Library. 

this wise ; so he casteth by his sword, and runneth 
under Thorgrim's hands, and casteth him down on 
the field. Now is there no weapon beside him, 
and he knew that the odds were great between 
them, so he grovelleth down on him, and biteth the 
throat of him asunder, and then draggeth him to 
where his sword lay, and smiteth the head from off 
him. Then he looked round about wide-eyed, and 
saw that Howard had slain one of those whom he had 
to deal with. Thither ran Atli first, and for no long 
while they gave and took before the man fell dead. 
Hallgrim had slain both those he had to deal with, 
and Torfi in likewise : Eyjulf had slain one of his : 
Thorir and Odd had slain three, and one was left : 
Thorstein and Grim had slain two and left one : 
Thorhall had slain his man ; but the house-carle 
had not slain his. Then bade Howard to hold their 
hands ; but Thorstein Thorbiornson said : " Our 
father shall not have to hear west there in Redsand 
that we brethren could not do our allotted day's 
work as other men." And therewith he ran at 
one of those with axe aloft and smote it into his 
head that he gat his bane. Atli asked why not 
slay them all ; but Howard said that was of no 
use. Then Atli sat down and bade lead the men 
before him ; then he shaved the hair from them 
and polled them, and tarred them thereafter ; he 
drew his knife from the sheath, and sheared the 
ears from each of them, bidding them so ear-marked 
go find Dyri and Thorarin ; and said that now 
perchance they would mind them how they had 
come across Atli the Little. 

So they went thence, three of them, who had 

Howard the Halt. 63 

come there eighteen in company, stout men and 
well arrayed. 

Now sang Howard a stave : 

West and east is wafted 
Word to Icefirth's dwellings, 
Word of weapons reddened 
In the spear-storm's waxing ; 
Now for spear-play's speeding 
Sped the war-lords hither, 
Soothly small the matter 
Unto sons of Valbrand. 

Then they went their ways and buried the slain, 
and thereafter gat them rest and peace even as 
they would. 


TELL we now how men come to the Thing a 
very many : many chieftains there were 
and of great account : there were Guest 
Oddleifson, and Steinthor of Ere, and Dyri and 

So they fell all together to talking of the case, 
and Steinthor was for Howard and his fellows, and 
he craved peace for them, and Guest Oddleifson to 
be judge, whereas the matter was fully known to 
him ; and because they were well ware afore of 
their privy dealings, they fell in to it gladly. 

Then spake Guest : " Forasmuch as ye both 
will have an award of me, I shall not be slow to 
give it : and first we must turn back to what was 
said last summer about the slaying of Olaf Howard- 
son, for the which I award three man-fines; against 
this shall the slaying be set of Sturla and Thiodrek 

64 The Saga Library. 

and Liot, who were slain quite sackless ; but Thor- 
biorn Thiodrekson shall have fallen unatoned be- 
cause of his injustice, and those his unheard-of 
dealings with Howard, and many other ill-deeds : 
unatoned also shall be Vakr and Scart, his sister's 
sons ; but the slaying of Brand the Strong shall 
be set against An's slaying, the fosterer of Hall- 
grim : one man-fine shall be paid for the serving- 
man of Liot of Moonberg, whom Howard and his 
folk slew. 

"So is it concerning the slaying of Holmgang- 
Liot that I can award no atonement for him, for 
plain to see is the wrongfulness of his dealings 
with Thorbiorn, and all them over whom he might 
prevail ; and according to right was it that two 
little lads should slay such a champion as was Liot 
Thorbiorn also shall have freely all the meadow 
that they had in common. On the other hand, to 
ease the mind of Thorarin, these men shall fare 
abroad ; to wit : Hallgrim Asbrand's son, Torfi 
and Eyjulf, sons of Valbrand, Thorir and Odd, sons 
of Thorbrand, Thorstein and Grim, sons of Thor- 
biorn : and whereas thou, Thorarin, art old ex- 
ceedingly, they shall not come back before they 
hear that thou art passed away ; but Howard shall 
change his dwelling, and not abide in this quarter 
of the land, and Thorhall his kinsman in likewise. 

"Now will I that ye hold the peace well and 
truly without guile on either side." 

Then came Steinthor forth, and took peace for 
Howard and all those fellows on the terms afore- 
said by Guest ; and he paid also the hundred of 
silver due. And Thorarin and Dyri stood forth in 

Howard the Halt. 65 

seeming manly wise, and were well content with 
the award. 

But when the case was ended, thither to the 
Thing came those earless ones, and in the hearing 
of all told what was betid in their journey. To all 
seemed the tidings great, and yet that things had 
gone as meet was : men deemed that Thorgrim 
had thrust himself into enmity against them, and 
had gotten but his due. 

But now spake Guest : " Most sooth it is to say 
that ye kinsmen are unlike to other men for evil 
heart and unmanliness : how came it into thine 
head, Thorarin, to make as if thou wouldst have 
peace, and yet fare so guilefully ? But whereas I 
have spoken somewhat afore, so that this thy case 
might have a peaceful end, even so will I let it 
abide according to my word and my judgment ; 
though forsooth, ye Thorarin and Dyri, were well 
worthy to come off the worser for your fraud's 
sake ; for which cause indeed I will nevermore be 
at your back in whatever case ye may have on 
hand. But thou, Steinthor, be well content, for 
henceforward I will help thee in thy cases, with 
whomsoever thou hast to do ; for herein hast thou 
fared well and manly." 

Steinthor said that Guest should have his will 
herein : " Meseemeth they have come to the worse, 
losing many of their men, and their honour withal." 
Therewith came the Thing to an end, and Guest 
and Steinthor parted in all friendship, but Thorarin 
and Dyri are very ill-pleased. So when Steinthor 
came home he sent after the folk in Otterdale, and 
when they met either told each other how they 

66 The Saga Library. 

had sped, and they deemed that things had gone 
well considering the plight of matters. 

They thanked Steinthor well for his furtherance, 
and said withal that Atli his brother-in-law had 
done well by them, and had been doughty of deeds 
moreover, and they called him the valiantest of 
fellows. So the greatest friendship grew up be- 
tween the brethren-in-law, and Atli was holden 
thenceforward for the doughtiest of men whereso- 
ever he came. 


AFTER these things fared Howard and all 
of them home to Icefirth, and Biargey was 
exceeding fain of them, and the fathers of 
those brethren withal, who deemed themselves 
grown young a second time. Then took Howard 
such rede, that he arrayed a great feast, and his 
house was great and noble, and nought was lacking 
there : he bade thereto Steinthor of Ere, and Atli 
his brother-in-law, Guest Oddleifson and all his 
kindred and alliance. Great was the throng there, 
and the feast of the fairest; there sat they alto- 
gether a week's space joyful and merry. 

Howard was a man very rich of all manner of 
stock, and at the feast's ending he gave to Steinthor 
thirty wethers and five oxen, a shield, a sword, 
and a gold ring, the best of treasures. To Guest 
Oddleifson he gave two gold rings and nine oxen : 
to master Atli he gave good gifts : to the sons of 
Valbrand, and the sons of Thorbrand, and the sons 
of Thorbiorn he gave the best of gifts : good 

Howard the Halt. 67 

weapons to some, and other things to others. 
To Hallgrim his kinsman gave he the sword 
Warflame, and full array of war therewith exceeding 
goodly. And he thanked them all for their good 
service and doughty deeds. Good gifts withal he 
gave to all that he had bidden thither, for he lacked 
neither gold nor silver. 

So after this feast rideth Steinthor home to Ere, 
Guest to Bardstrand, and Atli to Otterdale ; and 
now all part with the greatest love. But they who 
had to fare abroad went west to Vadil, and thence 
to sea in the summertide : they had a fair wind 
and made Norway. 

In those days Earl Hakon ruled over Norway. 
So they were there the winter, and in spring got 
them a ship and went a- warring, and became most 
famous men. This was their business for certain 
seasons, and then they fared out hither whenas 
Thorarin was dead ; great men they became, and 
much are they told of in tale here in the land, and 
far and wide otherwhere. 

So leave we to tell of them. 


BUT of Howard it is told that he sold his 
lands, and they went their ways north to 
Swarfadardale, and up into a dale called 
Oxdale. There he built a house, and abode there 
certain winters, calling that stead Howardstead. 

But within certain winters heard Howard these 
tidings, that Earl Hakon was dead, and King Olaf 

68 The Saga Library. 

Trygvison come to the land and gotten to be sole 
king over Norway, and that he set forth new beliefs 
and true. So when Howard heard hereof he broke 
up his household, and fared out with Biargey and 
Thorhall his kinsman. They came to King Olaf 
and he gave them good welcome. There was 
Howard christened with all his house, and abode 
there that winter well accounted of by King Olaf. 
That same winter died Biargey ; but the next summer 
Howard and Thorhall his kinsman fared out to Ice- 
land. Howard had out with him church-wood ex- 
ceeding big : he set up house in the nether part of 
Thorhallsdale, and abode there no long time before 
he fell sick ; then he called to him Thorhall his 
kinsman, and spake : " Things have come to this 
that I am sick with the sickness that will bring me 
to my death ; so I will that thou take the goods 
after me, whereof I wish thee joy ; for thou hast 
served me well and given me good fellowship. 
Thou shalt flit thine house to the upper part of 
Thorhallsdale and there shalt thou build a church, 
wherein I would be buried." 

So when he had ordered things as he would, he 
died a little after. 

Thorhall fell to speedily, and brought his house 
up the dale, and made a goodly stead there, and 
called it Thorhallstead : he wedded well, and many 
men are come from him ; and there he dwelt till 

Moreover it is said that when Christ's faith came 
to Iceland Thorhall let make a church of that wood 
which Howard had brought out hither. 

The stateliest house was that, and therein was 

Howard the Halt. 69 

set Howard's grave, and he was held for a very 
great man. 

Wherewith make we an end of this tale as for 
this time. 




. . .. ..1 J . ^ J .. . . T ... . . . ... ... ,.- ... .. 





A MAN named Ufeig dwelt westaway in 
Midfirth, at a stead called Reeks : he was 
the son of Skidi, and his mother was called 
Gunnlaug, whose mother was Jarngerd, daughter 
of Ufeig Jarngerdson, of the Skards in the north 
country. Ufeig was wedded to a woman called 
Thorgerd, daughter of Vali ; she came of great 
kin, and was a stirring woman. Ufeig was a wise 
man, and full of good counsel ; he was great-hearted 
in all wise, but unhandy at money-getting ; great 
and wide lands he had, but was scant of chattels ; 
he spared not to give his meat to any, yet mostly 
was it got by borrowing what was needed for the 
household; he was thingman of Styrmirof Asgeir's- 
water, who was then held for the greatest chief 
west away there. 

Ufeig had a son by his wife named Odd, a goodly 
man, and of fair mien from his youth up, but small 
love he had from his father ; he was but a sorry 
handy-craftsman. One named Vali also grew up 

74 The Saga Library. 

in Ufeig's house ; he was a goodly man, and a well- 

So Odd grew up in his father's house till he was 
twelve winters old, and mostly Ufeig had little to 
do with him, and loved him little ; but the report 
of men ran that none of that country was of better 
conditions than Odd. On a time fell Odd to talk 
with his father, and craved of him help in money : 
" For I would depart hence : things have come to 
this," said he, "that of thee get I little honour, and 
to thee give I little help." 

Ufeig answers : " I will not lay down for thee 
less than thou deservest ; and I will go as close as 
I can to that, and then thou wilt know what avail 
it will be to thee." 

Odd said that that would be but little to lean 
upon, and thus their speech had end. But the next 
day Odd takes a line down from the wall, and a 
set of fishing gear, and twelve ells of wadmal, and 
so goes his ways with no farewell to any. He fared 
out to Waterness, and fell into the company of fisher- 
men, and craved of them such outfit as he needed 
most, either to borrow or to buy on credit ; so that 
when they knew he was of good kin, and whereas 
he himself was a lad well-liked, they risked trust- 
ing him ; so he bought all on credit, and abode 
there certain seasons a-fishing ; and it is told that 
their luck was ever at its best with whom was 

So he was there three winters and three summers, 
and was by then gotten so far, that he had paid 
back all that he had borrowed, and had gained for 
himself a good trading penny withal. He never 

The Banded Men. 75 

went to see his father, and either of them went on 
as if he were nought akin to the other : he was well 
liked of his fellows. 

So as it fell out he took to carrying goods north to 
the Strands, and bought himself the use of a keel, 
and so gathered goods : so his wealth increased 
speedily, till he owned the keel himself, and plied 
therewith between Midfirth and the Strands for cer- 
tain summers, and now began to grow rich. At last 
he waxed weary of this work, and bought a share in 
a ship and fared abroad, and is now trading awhile, 
and still he did well therein, and flourished, and now 
hath won both wealth and the good report of men. 

This business he followed till he owned a ship 
of burden and the more part of its lading, and still 
he went a-trading, and became a man of great 
wealth and good renown : oft was he with lords 
and men of dignity in the Outlands, and was well 
accounted of wheresoever he was. Now he became 
so rich that he had two ships of burden a-trading, 
and as folk tell, no chapman of his day was so 
wealthy as Odd, and in his seafaring was luckier 
than other men. He never laid his ship northward 
of Eyiafirth or westward of Ramfirth. 


THE tale tells that on a certain summer Odd 
brought his ship to Boardere in Ramfirth 
with intent to abide there through the 
winter : there was he bidden of his friends to settle 
at home in the land, and he did according to their 
desire, and bought land at Mel in Midfirth : there 

76 The Saga Library. 

he set up a great household, and became bounteous 
in his housekeeping, which, as folk say, was deemed 
of no less worth than his seafaring aforetime ; 
neither was any man so renowned as was Odd in 
all the north country. He did better with his 
wealth than most men ; a liberal man to such as had 
need and were anigh him ; yet did he nought for 
the comfort of his father : his ship he laid up in 

Men say for sure that no man of Iceland was 
ever so wealthy as was Odd ; yea, that he had no 
less than any three of the richest ; in every wise 
was his wealth huge ; in gold and in silver, in land 
and in live-stock. Vali his kinsman abode with 
him, whether he were at home or abroad. So Odd 
abides at his house in all this honour aforesaid. 

There was a man named Glum, who dwelt at 
Skridinsenni, betwixt Bitra and Kollafirth : his 
wife's name was Thordis ; she was the daughter of 
Asmund, the Long-hoary, father of Grettir the 
Strong : their son was Uspak, a man great of growth 
and strong, ill to deal with, and masterful; in his early 
days he began to go a-ferrying wares between the 
Strands and the north-country; he was a well-grown 
man, and soon became mighty of body. One summer 
he came to Midfirth and sold his take there ; and 
on a day he gets him a horse, and rides up to Mel 
and there meets Odd ; they greeted each other and 
asked for the common tidings, and Uspak said : 
" So goes it, Odd, that folk speak well of thy ways, 
and thou art much praised of men, and all deem 
themselves well-housed who are with thee ; such 
luck am I hoping for, for I would dwell with thee." 

The Banded Men. 77 

Odd answered: " But thou art not much praised 
of men, nor art thou well-beloved : men deem that 
there is guile under thy brow, even as it was with 
thy kin before thee." 

Answereth Uspak : " Prove it by trial, and take 
it not on hearsay of others; for few are better 
spoken of than their deserts : nor am I asking for 
a gift ; I would have house-room of thee, but I will 
keep myself ; so try how thou wilt like it." Odd 
answers : " Mighty are thy kin, and hard to reach 
if ye take it into your heads to turn on me ; but 
whereas thou art earnest with me to take thee in, I 
will risk it for the space of one winter." 

So Uspak took that with thanks, and went in 
the harvest-tide to Mel with his goods, and soon 
became friendly with Odd : he was of good avail 
about the stead, doing as much work as any two 
others, and Odd liked him well. 

So wears the time, and in spring Odd bids him 
abide there, saying that he deemed it better so : 
Uspak was fully willing, and so he takes to over- 
looking the house, and things go on exceeding well, 
and folk make much to do about how well the man 
goes on ; and he was in good favour with folk. 

So standeth that house fair flourishing, and no 
man's fortune was deemed more worth than Odd's : 
one thing only seemed lacking for the fulfilment 
of his honour, a priesthood to wit : but in those 
days it was the custom for men to set up a new 
priesthood, or to buy one, and even so did Odd 
now : he speedily gathered thingmen to him, for 
all were fain of him. So are things quiet awhile. 

78 The Saga Library. 


ODD took Uspak to his heart, and let him 
pretty much rule over the household ; he 
worked both hard and much, and was use- 
ful about the house. 

So wears the winter, and Odd liked Uspak even 
better than before, because he took yet more things 
in hand. In harvest-tide he fetched in the sheep 
from the mountains, and they were well brought in, 
with none missing. 

So weareth winter into spring, and then Odd 
gives out that he is going abroad in the summer, 
and says that his kinsman Vali shall take the 
household to him ; but Vali answers : " So falls it, 
kinsman, that I am not used to this, and I were 
liefer to deal with the money and the wares." 

Now Odd turns to Uspak, and bids him take 
over to him the household. Uspak answers : 
" That would be over-much for me, how well soever 
things go, now thou hast to do therewith." Odd 
urges the matter, and Uspak excuses himself, as 
sorely as he desired to take it ; so at last it came 
to this, that he bade Odd have his way, if he would 
promise him his help and furtherance. Odd says 
that he shall so deal with his possessions that 
he may wax the better man thereby, and be 
more highly favoured, and that he had put it 
to the proof that no man either could or would 
watch better over his wealth. Uspak bids him 
now to do according to his will, and so the talk 

Now Odd arrayed his ship, and let bear his 

The Banded Men. 79 

wares thereto, and this was heard of, and in divers 
wise talked over. 

Odd had no need to be long in getting ready. 
Vali went with him : and so when they were fully 
dight men lead him to ship. Uspak followed him 
the furthest, and they had many things to talk of: 
so when they were but a little way from the ship 
Odd said : " Now is there yet one thing which has 
not been settled." 

" What is that ? " said Uspak. 

" We have not seen to my priesthood," said Odd, 
" and I will that thou take it over." 

" This is out of all reason," saith Uspak. " I am 
unmeet for this : already have I taken more things 
on my hands than I am like to handle or turn out 
well ; there is no man so fit as is thy father ; he is 
the greatest of lawmen, and exceeding wise." Odd 
says that into his hands he would not give it ; " and 
I will have thee to take it," says he. 

Uspak excused himself, and yet was fain to have 
it : then says Odd that he will be wroth if he take 
it not ; wherefore at their parting Uspak took the 

So Odd fares abroad, and full happy was his 
voyage even as his wont was. 

Uspak fares home, and this matter is talked of 
in diverse wise ; and folk think that Odd hath given 
much power into the hands of this man. 

Uspak rides to the Thing next summer with a com- 
pany of men, and does well and helpfully there, and 
turns all due matters well out of hand where to he was 
by law bound, and rides thence with honour. H e sus- 
tained his men in doughty wise ; nowhere letting 

8o The Saga Library. 

their part be borne down, nor were they down- 
trodden : he was kind and easy to all the neigh- 
bours, and there was no less plenty or hospitality 
at the stead than had been heretofore ; nor was good 
housekeeping lacking thereto : and all went well. 

So weareth summer : Uspak rideth to the Leet 
and halloweth it ; and when harvest comes, he fares 
to the fells when men go after their wethers, and 
they were brought in well, for the searching was 
careful, and no sheep were missing, either of Odd's 
or any other man's. 


IT fell out that harvest that Uspak came north 
to Swalastead in Willowdale, where dwelt a 
woman called Swala, who gave him good 
entertainment ; she was a fair woman and a young : 
she talked to Uspak, biddinghimlook to her matters ; 
" for I have heard that thou art the best of hus- 

He took it well, and they talked much together, 
and either was well pleased with other, and they 
beheld each other blithely. 

So their talk came to this, that he asked who had 
most to say in the giving of her in marriage. " Of 
such as are of any account," said she, "none is 
nigher to me than Thorarin the Sage, the Long- 
dale-folk's priest." 

So Uspak rode to Thorarin, and was straightway 
greeted of him well, in a way ; and there he set 
forth his errand, and wooed him Swala. Thorarin 

The Banded Men. 81 

answers : " I cannot say I am eager for alliance 
with thee : folk talk in diverse wise about thy deal- 
ings. I can see that it is no good to beat about the 
bush with such men as thou : either must I break 
up her household, and have her hither ; or else 
must ye do as ye will. I will have nought to do 
with it ; nor will I deem myself as consenting to the 

So thereon Uspak rides his ways, and comes to 
Swalastead, and tells Swala how matters stood : so 
they take their own counsel, and she betroths her- 
self to him, and fares home with him to Mel ; but 
they owned the house at Swalastead, and got men 
to take heed to it. So abideth Uspak at Mel, sus- 
taining the bounteousness of the house ; yet was he 
deemed a masterful man. 

So weareth winter, and in spring came Odd into 
Ramfirth, once again full of wealth and good report 
of men : he came home to Mel, and looked over 
his possessions, and deems that they have been 
well heeded, and speaks well of that ; and so wears 
on the summer. 

But on a time Odd falls to talk with Uspak, say- 
ing that it were well for him to take his priesthood 
again. "Yea," said Uspak, "that was even the 
thing I was most unwilling to take up, and the 
most unfit to deal with : I am all ready to give it 
up ; but I deem that men are mostly wont to do 
that at the Leets or the Things." Odd answereth : 
" So it may well be." Now neareth summer on to 
the Leet ; and on the morning thereof when Odd 
awakes, he looks about, and findeth few men in the 
hall, and he has slept fast and long : so he sprang 

82 The Saga Library. 

up and found that the men are clean gone from the 
hall, and deemed it marvellous, but said but little. 

So he arrayed him, and certain men with him, 
and rode away to the Leet ; but when they came 
there, they found many men, but these well nigh 
ready to depart ; and the Leet was hallowed. Odd 
changed countenance, and deemed this impudence 

Men ride home, and a few days wear away thence ; 
but on a day as Odd sat at table with Uspak over 
against him, even as he least looked for it Odd 
sprang from the board, and at Uspak with axe 
raised aloft, and bade him give up his priesthood 

Uspak answers : " No need of carrying the matter 
on with all this violence : thou mayest have the 
priesthood whenso thou wilt. I wotted not that thou 
wert so eager to have it." Therewith he stretches 
out his hand, and gives Odd the priesthood. 

Now were things quiet awhile ; but henceforth 
Odd and Uspak had little to do with each other ; 
and Uspak was somewhat cross-grained of temper ; 
and it is deemed that he was minded to have kept 
the priesthood from Odd, if he had not been cowed 
out of it when he could not get off. 

Now Uspak did nought to help the housekeep- 
ing, and Odd never called upon him for any work, 
and neither spake to other. 

So on a day Uspak gat him gone, and Odd made 
as if he knew it not, and in such wise they parted 
that no greeting passed between them. Uspak 
went to his house at jpwalastead, but Odd made as 
if nought had happed, and so all is quiet a space. 

The Banded Men. 83 


TH E tale tells that in harvest-tide men fare 
up into the fells, and all changed was 
Odd's ingathering from what had been ; 
for at this autumn folding he missed forty of his 
wethers, and they the best of his flock. They were 
searched for wide over fell and heath, and were not 
found : men deemed this wondrous, for Odd was 
accounted luckier with his sheep than others : so 
hard men drave the search that other countries as 
well as the home country were searched, and no- 
thing done ; and at last the matter dropped, but 
there was diverse talk as to how it came about. 

Odd was sorry of cheer that winter season ; so 
Vali his kinsman asked why he was nought glad : 
" What ! dost thou take the losing of thy sheep so 
much to heart ? thou art not much of a man if such 
things grieve thee." 

Odd answers : " I sorrow not for my wethers ; 
but this I deem a worse matter, that I wot not who 
has stolen them." Vali answers : " Thinkest thou 
then that so it verily is ; and whither dost thou 
turn to most then ? " 

Saith Odd : " It is not to be hidden that I deem 
Uspak hath stolen them." Vali answers : " Far 
away then is your friendship fled from the time 
when thou settedst him over all thy goods." Odd 
said that that had been the greatest folly, and that 
things had gone better than might have been 
looked for. Vali said : " Many talked thereof as 
of a wondrous thing ; but now I will that thou lay 
not this so hastily to his charge ; for there is a risk 

84 The Saga Library. 

of rumour getting about, that it seems lightly 
spoken : now shall we make a bargain together 
that I will certify thee of the truth, but thou shalt 
let me deal therein as I will." 

So they struck that bargain, and Vali went his 
ways with goods of his : he rides out to Waterdale 
and Longdale selling his goods, and was friendly 
and easy to deal with. So he goes his ways till he 
comes to Swalastead, and there has good enter- 
tainment, and all joyous was Uspak. But on the 
morrow Vali arrays him to depart, and Uspak led 
him from the garth, and asked many things of Odd, 
and Vali spake well of his doings. Uspak made 
much of him, saying that he was a bounteous man : 
" But came not some loss upon him last harvest ? " 
Vali said that so it was. 

" What is the guess about those missing sheep, 
such a lucky sheep-owner as Odd has been hereto- 
fore ? " said Uspak. Vali answers : " The guess- 
ing is not all one way ; but some deem it to have 
been the work of men." 

Uspak says : " That is well to be deemed ; and 
yet such tricks are but for few." 

" Yea surely," saith Vali. Said Uspak : " Has 
Odd any guess about it ?" "He saith but little 
thereof," said Vali, " but among other folk is there 
all the more talk how it was done." " As may well 
be," said Uspak. 

"So it goes," said Vali, "after all we two have 
said, that some men say it is not unlike that thou 
must have had a hand in it ; for they put it to- 
gether that ye parted in anger, and that the sheep 
were missing not long after." 

The Banded Men. 85 

Uspak answers : " I could not have thought 
that thou wouldst say such things ; and but we 
were such friends as we be, I would avenge it 

Says Vali : "There is no need to hide the thing, 
or to be so mad wroth : I have been looking over 
thy matters here ; and thou mayest not put it from 
thee ; for I can see that thou hast much more of 
stores than are like to be well gotten." 

Uspak answered : " It will not be so proven : 
but what will our foes' words be, if our friends speak 
in this wise ? " 

Vali said : " This is not spoken unto thee in 
enmity, seeing that I speak to thy hearing alone ; 
for now if thou wilt do after my will, and confess the 
matter, it shall fall but lightly on thee ; for I shall 
find a way thereto : I have sold my wares wide 
about the country, and I will say that thou hast 
taken the money over, and bought therewith flesh- 
meat and other things : no man will misdoubt this, 
and I will so bring it about that thou shalt have no 
shame hereof, if thou wilt do after my counsel." 

Uspak said that he would not confess to it. 

" Then will things go a worser road," said Vali ; 
" but it is thine own doing." 

Therewith they parted, and Vali fared home. 
Odd asked him if he had found out aught about 
the missing sheep, and Vali let out but little there- 

Quoth Odd : " No need to hide now that Uspak 
has stolen them ; for thou wouldst fain excuse him 
if thou mightest." 

So wore the winter quietly : but when it was 

86 The Saga Library. 

spring, and the Days of Summoning were come, 
Odd went his ways with twenty men, till he came 
anigh the garth of Swalastead ; then said Vali to 
Odd : " Bait your horses here awhile, and I will 
ride to the house and see Uspak, if peradventure 
he be willing to make atonement, and then the case 
need go no further." 

So did they, and Vali rides up to the house ; 
there was no one without, and the door was open, 
so Vali went in : it was dark in the house, and all 
unwares of him a man leaps up from the bench and 
smites him between the shoulders, so that he falls 
straightway. Then cried Vali : " Save thyself, 
wretched man ! Odd is hard by the garth, and is 
minded to slay thee : send thy wife to meet him, 
and let her say that we are at one, and that thou 
hast confessed to the matter ; but that I have gone 
to call in moneys of mine out in the Dales." 

Said Uspak: "This is one of the worst of 
deeds ; I had minded it for Odd, and not for 

So Swala meets Odd, and tells him that they are 
at one again, Vali and Uspak ; " and Vali bade thee 
turn back." 

Odd believed it, and turned back and rode 

Vali lost his life there, and his corpse was brought 
to Mel. 

Odd thought the tidings great and evil ; he gat 
shame thereof, and folk deemed it a miserable hap. 

Uspak vanished away so that men knew nought 
what was become of him. 

The Banded Men. 87 


HERE tells the tale that Odd set on foot 
this case at the Thing, and summoned 
the neighbours from home ; but as it 
happed, one of those summoned died, whereon Odd 
summoned another in his place. Men fare to the 
Thing, and all is quiet till the courts are set : and 
when the courts were opened Odd put forth the 
case for the slaying, and all went smoothly till the 
defence was called. 

Now hard by the courts sat two chieftains, Styr- 
mir and Thorarin, with their companies ; and Styr- 
mir spake to Thorarin, and said : " Now are they 
crying on the defence in the blood-suit ; wilt thou 
answer aught in the case ? " 

" Nay," said Thorarin, " I will not meddle herein, 
for meseems need enough drives Odd to take up 
the case and follow the blood-suit after such a man 
as Vali, when the man accused is belike the very 
worst of men." 

" Yea," said Styrmir, " the man is not a good 
man verily, but thou art somewhat bound to him." 

" I heed that nought," said Thorarin. 

Styrmir said : " It is to be looked at in thiswise 
also, that thou wilt have trouble with him after he 
is made guilty ; only so much the more, and the 
harder to deal with : and it seemeth to me a thing 
to be seen to : so let us seek some rede, for we 
both of us see a flaw in the case." 

" I have seen that for this long while," says Thora- 
rin, "but it seemed to me unmeet to hamper the case. " 

88 The Saga Library. 

Styrmir answers : " It toucheth thee the closest 
though, and folk will call it unmanly in thee if the 
case goeth forward now, when a defence from thee 
is urgent ; and, sooth to say, it were well if Odd 
knew that there are others of account besides him- 
self; he treadeth us all under foot, us and our 
thingmen, so that he alone is told of : and it would 
be no harm if he found out what a wizard at law 
he is." 

" Thou shalt have thy way," said Thorarin, "and 
I will help thee herein ; but I like not the look of 
it, and evil will come of it moreover." 

" I will not turn from it for that cause," said 
Styrmir ; and he springs up and goes to the court, 
and asks what is doing about the cases of men. So 
they told him, and he said : " So is it, Odd, that 
there is a flaw found in thy case, and thou hast set 
it afoot wrongly, whereas thou hast summoned thy 
ten witnesses from the country-side at home, which 
is against the law, for thou shouldst have done it 
at the Thing ; now do thou one of two things : 
either go from the court with matters as they are, 
or stay, and we will put forth the defence." 

Odd held his peace, and turned the matter over, 
and saw that it was but sooth ; so he goes from the 
court with his company, and home to his booth. 

But as he came into the booth-lane there came 
a man to meet him : a man well-stricken in years, 
and clad in a black sleeve-cloak ready to drop to 
pieces, with but one sleeve on, and that cast aback 
behind : he had a pike-staff in his hand, and a 
slouched hat upon his head ; he peered about from 
under it, and walked somewhat bent, smiting the 

The Banded Men. 89 

staff down upon the ground ; and lo ! there was come 
old Ufeig, Odd's father. 

Now Ufeig spake : " Early away from the courts 
then," says he. "It is not in one thing only that 
thou art happy ; for everything thou dealest with 
runs swift and smooth off the reel. Well, so Uspak 
is found guilty then ? " 

" Nay," said Odd, "he is not." 

Ufeig said : "It is unmeet for a great man to 
mock an old carle like me ! Why is he not found 
guilty then ? was he wrongfully accused ? " 

" Nay, he did the deed sure enough," said Odd. 

" How then ? " said Ufeig, " I thought the charge 
would stick to him: was he notVali's banesman?" 

"No one had a word to say against it," said Odd. 

" Then why is he not found guilty? " said Ufeig. 

" There was a flaw found in the case, and it came 
to nought," said Odd. 

Says Ufeig : " How might there be a flaw in the 
case of a rich man like thee ? " 

" They said it was wrongly set on foot at home," 
says Odd. 

" Nay, it could not be with thee in the case," said 
Ufeig ; " yet it may be thou art better at getting 
money, and wandering about, than at pushing a 
law-suit. After all, though, I scarce think thou art 
telling me the truth." 

Odd answers : " I care not whether thou be- 
lievest me or not." 

" Well, it may be," said Ufeig ; " sooth to say, 
however, I knew when thou wentest from home 
that the case was wrongly set on foot ; but thou 
deemedst thyself enough by thyself, and wouldst 

90 The Saga Library. 

ask of no man : and now thou must be enough for 
thyself in this matter also ; but thou wilt get out 
of it well enough ; as it behoveth thee specially to 
do, who deemest all men dirt beside thee." 

Odd answers : " One thing is sure, that I shall 
get no help of thee." 

Said Ufeig : " If thou gettest any help in thy case 
it will be mine : how much wouldst thou spare thy 
money if any were to set thy case right for thee ? " 

Odd answers : " I would not spare money to him 
who would take up the case." 

Said Ufeig : " Then let a heavyish purse drop 
into the hand of this old carle ; for folk's eyes are 
apt at squinting toward money." So Odd gave him 
a great purse, and Ufeig asked : " Was the defence 
put into court or not ? " " No," said Odd, " we went 
away from the court first." 

Ufeig answers : " The only good thing which 
thou hast done is that which thou hast done un- 
wittingly." So they parted, and Odd went home to 
his booth. 


NOW must it be told how master Ufeig 
goeth up by the meads unto the courts ; 
he comes to the courts of the North- 
landers, and asks how go folk's cases : they told 
him that some were now doomed, and others at 
point to be summed up. Says he : "And how is 
it with the case of Odd my son : is it ended now 
peradventure ? " 

" Ended it is as much as ever it will be," said they. 

The Banded Men. 91 

Ufeig said : "Is Uspak found guilty then ? " 

" Nay," said they, " he is not." 

" What brought that about ? " saith Ufeig. 

" There was a flaw found in the case," say they ; 
" it was wrongly set afoot." 

" Yea," said Ufeig, " will ye give me leave to go 
into the court ? " 

They said yea thereto ; so he went into the 
Doom-ring and sat down ; then said he : " Whether 
is the case of Odd my son doomed ? " 

" Doomed it is as much as it ever will be," said 

" How cometh that ? " said Ufeig. " Is Uspak 
wrongfully accused ? Slew he not Vali sackless ? 
or could it be that the case was not deemed 
urgent ? " 

They said : " There was a flaw in the case, and 
it came to nought." "What was the flaw?" said 
he. They told him. " Yea, forsooth," said he, " and 
deem ye that there is any right and justice in 
giving heed to such things of little worth, and to 
let the worst of men, a thief and a man-slayer, get 
off scot-free ? Is it not taking a heavy weight upon 
you to doom him sackless who is fully worthy of 
death, and thus to give judgment contrary to 
right ?" They said that they did not deem it right, 
but that in suchwise it wa&Jaid down for them. 

" Yea, indeed," said Ufeig ; " did ye swear the 

" Full surely did we," say they. 

" So it must have been," said he ; " and in what 
words will ye have sworn ? Was it not in this wise, 
that ye would judge according to what seemed 

92 The Saga Library. 

truest to you, and most according to the law ? 
Even so must ye have sworn." They said that so 
it was. 

Then said Ufeig : " And what may be more ac- 
cording to truth than to doom the worst of men to 
be guilty, worthy of death, and to be deprived of 
all aid : a man proven guilty of theft, and who 
moreover hath slain a sackless man, even Vali. 
But as to the third of those things wherewith your 
oath has to do, that indeed may be deemed some- 
what uncertain. Yet think for yourselves which is 
more of worth, those two words which deal with 
right and truth, or the third which dealeth with but 
quibbles of law ; and then will it surely seem to 
you as it verily is, and ye shall surely wot, that ye 
will have the more to answer for, if ye let one go 
free who is worthy of death, when ye have sworn 
an oath that ye would judge according to what ye 
know to be the right : and now look to it that it 
will weigh heavy on you else, and that ye will scarce 
escape answering to a hard matter." 

Now whiles would Ufeig let the purse sink 
down from under his cloak, and whiles would he 
draw it up, and he found that they all kept casting 
an eye to the purse. 

Then he spake to them : " It were better rede 
to judge according to right and troth, even as ye 
have sworn, and to have in return the thanks and 
love of all wise and upright men." 

Therewith he took the purse and poured out the 
silver, and told it over before them : " Now will I 
show my friendliness toward you," said he, " and 
how I am thinking more of you than of myself 

The Banded Men. 93 

herein ; and this I do because some of you are my 
friends, and some my kinsmen, and all of you 
moreover in such a case that need is ye look to 
yourselves : to every man who sitteth in the court 
will I give an ounce of silver, and half a mark 
to him that sums up the case : and thus ye will 
both have gotten money, and put from you a matter 
heavy to answer to ; and moreover, which is most 
of all, ye will have kept your oath inviolate." 

They thought over the matter, and seemed to 
find truth in his words, and they had aforetime 
deemed themselves hard bestead in the matter of the 
straining of their oath : so they took the choice that 
Ufeig bade them. Then was Odd sent for, and he 
came by then the chieftains were gone home to 
the booths. So the case was set forth, and Uspak 
was made guilty, and witnesses named for the ful- 
filling of the doom ; and therewith go men home 
to their own booths. 

Nought was heard hereof that night, but on the 
morrow up standeth Odd on the Hill of Laws, and 
saith in a loud voice : " Here in the Court of the 
Northlanders was a man found guilty of the slay- 
ing of Vali : Uspak is his name, and these are the 
tokens to know the guilty one by : He is great of 
growth, and a manly enough fellow. Dark brown 
is his hair, his cheekbones big, his brow swart : 
great-handed is he, thick-legged, and all his fashion 
is out of measure big, and his aspect most rascally." 

Now are men much astonished; many had heard 
nought thereof before, and men deem that Odd has 
handled his case strongly and luckily, such a plight 
as it was gotten into. 

94 The Saga Library. 


N" OW is it told that Styrmir and Thorarin 
had speech together, and Styrmir said : 
"Great mocking and shame have we 
gotten from this case." 

Thorarin said: " It was but what we might have 
looked for : but wise men must have been busy 

" Yea," said Styrmir ; " seest thou any way now 
to set matters right ? " 

" I know not if it may be speedily done," said 

" Well, what is best then ? " said Styrmir. 

Thorarin answers : " If the charge might be laid 
on them that money was brought into court, that 
would stick." 

" Yea, yea," said Styrmir. Then they went their 
ways home to their booths. 

Now they call together to council their friends 
and men allied to them ; and thither came, first 
Hermund Illugison, secondly Gellir Thordson, 
thirdly Egil Skulison, fourthly Jarnskeggi Einar- 
son, fifthly Skeggbroddi Biarnson, sixthly Thor- 
geir Haldorason, and Styrmir and Thorarin withal. 

So these eight fall a-talking together, and Styr- 
mir and Thorarin set forth the story of the case, 
and where it stood now, and what a booty would 
be Odd's wealth, whereby all their fortunes would 
be plenteously amended : so they determine to band 
together, and all to push the case to the awarding 
of outlawry or self-doom, and here to they bind them- 
selves by oath ; and they deem that this may not 

The Banded Men. 95 

be overthrown, and that none may have heart or 
wisdom to rise up against it. With such talk they 
part, and men ride home from the Thing, and at 
first this is kept privy. 

Odd was well pleased with his journey to the 
Thing, and the father and son are more at one 
now than heretofore : so Odd abideth in peace 
these seasons. 

But in spring-tide he met his father, and Ufeig 
asked for tidings ; but Odd said he had heard 
nought, and asked in turn what was toward. Ufeig 
says that Styrmir and Thorarin have gathered folk 
and are going to Mel a-summoning : Odd asks 
wherefore, and Ufeig tells him all their intent. 
Odd answers : " It seemeth to me no such heavy 
matter." Ufeig says : " Well, maybe it will not be 
beyond thy strength." 

So weareth time to the summoning-days, and 
then come Thorarin and Styrmir to Mel with 
many men ; and Odd also had a great company 
there. They put forth their case then, and sum- 
moned Odd to the Althing, for that he had caused 
money to be borne into the courts unlawfully : 
nought else betid to tell of there, and they rode 
away with their company. Yet again it befell that 
the father and son met, and talked together, and 
Ufeig asked if it still seemed a thing of nought; 
and Odd answers : " Nay, I deem it no such heavy 
matter." " Otherwise it seemeth to me," saith 
Ufeig ; " knowest thou clearly to what pass things 
are come ? " 

Odd said he knew of what had come to pass. 

Ufeig said : " More will come of it, meseemeth, 

96 The Saga Library. 

because six other chieftains of the greatest have 
joined themselves to them." 

" Great strength they seem to need against me," 
quoth Odd. 

Said Ufeig : " What will thy rede be now ? " 

" What," said Odd, " save to ride to the Thing 
and seek aid." 

Ufeig answers : " It seemeth to me nought hope- 
ful, in such a plight as things now are, to stake our 
honour on having the greater number of folk." 

" What is to be done then ? " said Odd. 

Ufeig says : " My rede it is that thou array thy 
ship while the Thing is toward, and be ready with 
all thy loose goods, and have them aboard by then 
men ride from the Thing. And now which of thy 
money deemest thou gone a worser road, that which 
these shall take from thee, or that which I shall 

" Well, that is something saved out of the fire 
that cometh to thee," saith Odd ; and therewith 
he giveth his father a heavy purse of silver, and 
they part. Odd arrays his ship, and gets men 
thereto : and so weareth time toward the Thing. 
But these plots went on privily, so that few heard 


NOW ride the chieftains to the Thing, and 
many are with them : goodman Ufeig 
was of Styrmir's company. The Banded 
Men bespoke a meeting of them on Bluewood- 
heath, and these met there, Egil, Styrmir, Hermund, 

The Banded Men. 97 

and Thorarin ; and now they ride all in a company 
down to the Thing-mead. But these ride from the 
east, Skeggbroddi and Thorgeir Haldorason of 
Bathdale ; and from the north Jarnskeggi ; and 
they meet by Reydarmuli, and all the companies 
of them together ride down into the Meads, and so 
to the Thing. 

There turns all the talk on Odd's case, and all 
men deem there will be none to answer it, thinking 
that few dare it, and none may carry it through in 
the teeth of such great men as there are against 
him ; but their own case they deemed fair enough, 
and more than enough they bragged about it ; and 
no man had a word to say against them. 

Odd charged no man about his case : he dight 
his ship for sea in Ramfirth so soon as men were 
gone to the Thing. 

On a day went master Ufeig from his booth : he 
was full of trouble, seeing no man to help him, and 
thinking his case heavy to push : scarce could he 
see any way for him alone to deal with such great 
men ; and in the case was no defence ; he went all 
bent at the knees, and wandered stumbling among 
the booths. Thus fared he a long while, but came 
at the last to the booth of Egil Skulison ; and men 
were come thither to talk with Egil, so Ufeig hung 
about the booth doors, and waited till the men were 
gone away. Egil followed them out, and when he 
was going in again, Ufeig turned and met him, and 
greeted him. Egil looked on him, and asked him 
who he was : " Ufeig am I called," said he. 

Egil said : " Art thou the father of Odd ? " 

He said that so it was. 


98 The Saga Library. 

" Then wilt them be a-talking of his case ; but it 
will be waste of words, for the matter is too much 
done with for me to help thee aught ; and other men 
than I have more to do with the case, Styrmir and 
Thorarin to wit ; they take the more part of the 
ruling thereof, though we follow them forsooth." 

Ufeig answered, and there came a word into 
his mouth : 

Seemly was it 

Of my son to think once j 

Never fared I 

Odd to further : 

But little the fool looked 

Into law-learning, 

Though full enow 

Of fee he gathered. 

And again he sang : 

Sport I hold it, 

The old home-abider, 

To speak a little 

With the sage of men-folk ; 

Gainsay me not 

A little speech now, 

For worthy indeed 

And wise thou art holden. 

" Nay, I shall find other sport than talking of 
Odd's affairs ; time was they were hopefuller than 
now, and thou wilt not gainsay me speech, for it 
now is the old carle's chiefest joy to talk with such 
men as thee, and so wear away a little time." 

Egil answers : " I will not forbid thee speech." 
And they go in together, and sit down. 

Then Ufeig takes up the word : " Art thou a 
householder, Egil ? " Egil said that so it was. 

" Ah, and thou dwellest at Burg ? " 

The Banded Men. 99 

" So is it," said Egil. 

Ufeig said : " What I hear told of thee is good, 
and much to my mind : for they say that thou 
grudgest meat to no man, and keepest good house, 
so that it fares not unlike with us twain ; either of 
us being men of good kin and good conditions, but 
not handy at money-getting; yea, and they say 
withal that thou art good at need to thy friends." 

Egil answered : " It likes me well to be accounted 
of even as thou art ; for I wot that thou art a wise 
man and of great kin." 

Ufeig said : " Herein though are we unlike : thou 
art a great chieftain, and fearest nought for anything 
that may be in thy way, and wilt never shrink from 
holding thine own with whomsoever thou hast to 
do ; whereas I am but a nobody : nevertheless my 
mind is as thy mind, and great pity it is of men 
who hold themselves so high, that they should lack 

Egil answered : " Maybe that shall be changed 
shortly, and my fortune amended." 

" How comes that ? " said Ufeig. 

" Why thus, meseems," said Egil, " that if we get 
hold of Odd's money, little shall we lack, for great 
things are told us of his wealth." 

Ufeig answers : " Overmuch would not be said 
of it though he were called the richest man of Ice- 
land. But thou wilt be wishful to know what thy 
share thereof will be ; and indeed thou art in most 
sore need of the money." 

" True," said Egil, " and thou art a good carle, 
and a wise, and wilt know clearly about Odd's 

ioo The Saga Library. 

He answered : " It is to be looked for that others 
should not know more thereof than I ; and I can tell 
thee that it is more than the most that can be said 
of it ; but I have been thinking what thy share 
thereof will be." 

And therewith came a song into his mouth : 

Eight great ones surely gripeth 
Gold greed and wrongful doing, 
Though words be not well fitting 
To us who once were wealthy. 
Yet, lords of loud shields clashing, 
I rede you leave your laughter 
O'er the deed ye deem a great one, 
Nor drag to light your shaming. 

" Scarcely will that speedily be," says Egil, " yet 
art thou a good scald." 

Said Ufeig : " I will not delay the showing thee 
what thy share of the good fortune will be : neither 
more nor less than the sixteenth part of the lands 
of Mel." 

" Hearken to the fool," said Egil; " what ! is not 
the money as much as is said, then ? or how may 
that be ? " 

Ufeig answers : " Nay, there is money enough, 
yet meseemeth that is just what thou wilt get : 
have ye not determined that ye are to have half of 
Odd's wealth between you, and the men of the Quar- 
ter the other half ? Wherefore I am reckoning that 
there will be the half of the lands of Mel to be shared 
between the eight Banded Men of you : for so will 
your intent have been, and so will ye have settled 
it, with whatsoever unexampled rashness ye have 
taken up the case. Or were ye perchance deem- 
ing that Odd my son would sit quietly at home 

The Banded Men. i o i 

awaiting your onset, when ye should be going 
north-away ? Nay," said Ufeig, " ye shall not come 
upon Odd unready ; and as good as he is at money- 
making, yet lacketh he not for cunning and shifti- 
ness at need. And no less belike shall the keel be- 
neath him drive through the Iceland main because 
ye call him guilty, as guilty he is not ; for the case 
against him has been wrongfully taken up, and it 
shall fall on their heads who have meddled in it. 
Well, I deem he will be on the sea by now with all 
that he hath, saving the land at Mel, which he hath 
left behind for you ; and he had heard tell that it 
is no great way up from the sea to Burg if he should 
happen into Burgfirth. 

" Well, the case will end as it began, and ye will 
have shame and dishonour of it, and most meetly 
too, for every man will blame you." 

Said Egil : " I see it as clear as day, and how 
that there are two in the game. Verily, it was not 
to be looked for that we should catch Odd shiftless ; 
and no great matter I deem it ; for there are some 
in the case, the most pushing in it, whom I would 
be well content to see shamed, Styrmir to wit, or 
Thorarin, or Hermund." 

" Yea," said Ufeig, " it shall come to pass as is 
meet and right, that they shall have blame hereof 
of every man; but it misliketh me that thou shouldst 
come off ill, who art so much to my mind, and the 
very best of you Banded Men." Therewith he let 
a big purse of money sink down from under his 
cloak, and Egil's eyes turned towards it; Ufeig 
noted that, and drew it up again under his cloak at 
his swiftest, and spake : " In such wise go matters, 

iO2 The Saga Library. 

Egil, that I look for the thing to go just as I have 
told thee : but now will I do a deed in thine honour." 
And with that he unwinds the purse and pours out 
the silver into Egil's cloak-skirt, two hundreds of 
silver, the best that might be. " This shalt thou 
have of me if thou wilt be not against our case, and 
this is somewhat of an honour to thee." 

Egil answers : " Meseemeth thou art no little 
rascal : it is not to be thought of, that I will break 
my oath." 

Ufeig answers : " O, ye are not what ye deem 
yourselves : ye would be called chieftains, but have 
no shift to turn to when things are gotten crooked. 
Thou shalt do none of this ; for I will hit upon a rede 
whereby thou shalt keep to thine oath." 

" What is it ? " said Egil. 

Ufeig said : " Have ye not determined that ye 
will have either outlawry or self-doom in the case ? " 

Egil said that so it was. 

" Well, it may be," said Ufeig, " that we, Odd's 
kindred, shall be allowed to choose which it shall 
be, and then it might be brought about that the 
giving of the award shall come to thee ; and then 
would I have thee make it easy." 

Egil answers : " Thou sayest sooth, and art a 
cunning carle, and a wise ; yet am I not quite ready 
hereto, having neither might nor men to withstand 
all these chieftains alone : for their enmity for this 
will fall on whomsoever riseth up against them." 

Ufeig said : " How would it be were another in 
the matter with thee ? " 

" Things would go better then," said Egil. 

Said Ufeig: "Whom wouldst thou choose of 

The Banded Men. 103 

the Banded Men ? think of them as if the whole 
company of them were in my hand." 

" Two there are," said Egil ; " Hermund is my 
nearest neighbour, but we are not of good accord ; 
the other is Gellir, and him would I choose." 

" That is a hard piece of work," said Ufeig, " for 
I wish all of them ill-luck from this case except 
thee alone : but he will be wise enough to see which 
is best to choose, to gain money and honour there- 
with, or to lose the wealth, and win the shame. So 
now wilt thou be in this matter, so as to lessen the 
award if it come to thee ? " 

" Well, I have a mind to it," said Egil. 

" Then shall it be a settled matter between us," 
said Ufeig, " for I will come back hither to thee in 
an hour's space." 


SO departed Ufeig from Egil, and went his 
ways : he went wandering among thebooths, 
still somewhat dragging of gait, howbeit not 
so downcast of heart as tottering of foot, and nought 
so easily tripped in his case, as he is lame of foot. 
At last he cometh to the booth of Gellir Thordson, 
and has him called out ; he came forth, and greeted 
Ufeig first, for he was a lowly-mannered man, and 
asked what his errand was ; Ufeig answers : " I was 
just wandering about here." 

Gellir said : " Thou wilt be wanting to talk about 
Odd's case ?" " Nay," says Ufeig, " I will not be 
talking of it : I wash my hands of it : other pastime 
I would have than that." 

IO4 The Saga Library. 

Gellir said : " What wilt thou talk of then ? " 

Ufeig said : " I hear say that thou art a wise man, 
and good game I deem it to talk with wise men." 

So they sit down together and fall to talk, and 
Ufeig asks : " Which of the young folk in the west 
country deemest thou like to turn out a great man ? " 

Gellir said there was good choice of such, and 
named the sons of Snorri the Priest and the Ere- 
men. " I hear tell," said Ufeig, " that so it is ; and 
moreover I am now come to the right place to learn 
tidings, whereas I am now talking to a man both 
truthful and straightforward : but now which of the 
women west-away there are accounted the best 
matches ? " 

Gellir named the daughters of Snorri the Priest, 
and of Steinthor of Ere. 

" So I hear tell," said Ufeig ; " and yet, how comes 
it ? hast thou ne'er a daughter ? " 

Gellir said yea, certes he had. 

" How was it that thou namedst her not, then ? " 
said Ufeig ; " sure none shall be fairer than thy 
daughters, if likelihood shall rule : are they un- 
wedded yet ? " 

" Yea," said he. " How comes that ? " said 

Says Gellir : " Because no one has come a- wooing 
as yet, who was both wealthy and a man of rule 
over folk, of great kin and of good conditions : for 
though I be not a wealthy man in money, yet am I 
hard to please because of my high blood and great 
honour. But come, let us talk the matter down to 
the bottom by question : what man of the north 
country is likely for a chieftain, thinkest thou ? " 

The Banded Men. 1 05 

Ufeig answers : " There is good choice of men : 
first I account Einar Jarnskeggi's son, or Hall 
Styrmir's son ; yea, and some there are who deem 
Odd my son like to be somewhat ; and herewith am 
I come to the word he bade me give thee, that he 
would ally himself with thee, and wed Ragnheid 
thy daughter." 

" Yea, yea," said Gellir ; " time was when that 
would have won a good answer, but as things go 
now it must be put off, meseemeth." 

" How so ? " said Ufeig. 

Said Gellir : " Well, as things go, thy son Odd 
seemeth somewhat under a cloud." 

Ufeig answered : " I tell thee of a sooth thou 
wilt never wed her better : none may gainsay it 
that he is as well of manners as the best, nor lacketh 
he either for wealth or good kin : thou moreover 
art pretty much of a lack-penny, and it might well 
be that thou shalt be strengthened in him, a man 
most great-hearted to his friends." 

Gellir says : " The thing might be looked at, but 
for this suit that hangs over him." 

Ufeig answers: "Speak not of that wretched 
matter, which is for nought but the shame and dis- 
grace of all such as have meddled therein." 

Gellir answers : " None the less it is to be looked 
for that it will go otherwise ; so I will not assent 
to the match, though if the suit might be got rid of, 
I were full fain thereof." 

Answereth Ufeig : " Belike, Gellir, ye shall all 
make your fortunes out of this, and I may as well tell 
thee what thy share shall be, for I know all about 
it : well, at the best ye eight Banded Men will have 

io6 The Saga Library. 

half of the lands of Mel between you : nor do I 
deem thy share then a good one ; the gain of a little 
wealth to wit, and the loss therewith of good report 
and manliness ; thou who wert called erewhile one 
of the best of men in the whole land." 

Gellir asked how that might be, and Ufeig 
answered : " Meseemeth, forsooth, that Odd is now 
at sea with all he hath, save the land at Mel : it was 
not to be looked for that he would lie shiftless be- 
fore you, and should let you pick and choose in all 
between you. 

" Nay," quoth Ufeig, " rather said he that if he 
should come to Broadfirth he might happen on thy 
house, and then could he wive himself out of thy 
walls ; and he said moreover that he had tinder 
enough to burn up thy house if he would : yea, 
or were he to be in Burgfirth, he hath heard tell 
that it is no great way up from the sea to Burg ; 
or, quoth he, if he came into Eyiafirth he might 
stumble upon Jarnskeggi's stead ; or in likewise 
should he come unto the Eastern-firths, he might 
come across Skeggbroddi's dwelling : nor maketh he 
much account of it if he never come back to Iceland 
again : but ye shall have out of all this a meet lot, 
shame to wit, and dishonour ; and ill I deem it that 
a chieftain so good as thou should be so evilly be- 
stead, and fain had I spared it thee." 

Gellir answered : " Yea, it will be true enough 
belike ; and I should heed it little though the getting 
of the money slipped through : for herein I let my- 
self be drawn by my friends rather than that my 
heart was set on it." 

Ufeig said : " So wilt thou look on it as soon as 

The Banded Men. 107 

thou growest cool, that thou wilt deem it the more 
honourable part to wed thy daughter to Odd my 
son, even as I said at the first : lo ! here is the 
money that he sent thee, saying that he himself 
will pay her dower, for he knoweth thee a poor 
man : two hundreds in silver, lo ! and such silver 
as may scarce be gotten. Note now what a man 
offers thee this choice ! to wed thy daughter, and 
he himself to pay her dower ; and for thyself, it is 
most like he will never use thee miserly ; while thy 
daughter hath gotten all good fortune." 

Gellir answered : " This is a thing so great that 
it is hard to value ; but for nought can I bring my- 
self to betray those that trust me : yet see I that 
nought will come of it but mocking and scorn." 

Then answered Ufeig : " Wondrous wise for- 
sooth are ye great men ! who asked of thee to be- 
tray them that trust in thee ? or tread thine oath 
under foot ? Nay but mayhappen the award shall 
come into thine hands, and then mayest thou make 
it little, and yet hold to thine oath." 

Gellir said : " True is that, and thou art a shifty 
carle, and wondrous cunning : yet may I not alone 
fly in the face of all these men." 

Ufeig said : " How would it be if I got another 
to be with thee ? wouldst thou help the case then ? " 

" That will I," said Gellir, " if thou bring it about 
that I have a hand in the award." 

Ufeig said : " Whom dost thou choose to be with 
thee ? " 

Gellir answers : " Egil will I choose ; he is 
nighest allied to me." 

" Folly," said Ufeig, " to choose him who is worst 

io8 The Saga Library. 

of all your company ; I were loth indeed to give 
him any honour, and I wot not whether I will set 
my hand to it." 

" Have thine own way then," said Gellir. 

Ufeig said : " Wilt thou take up the case if I 
bring him into it with thee ? for meseemeth he will 
have wits to know whether it is good to take honour 
or not." 

" Seeing my good bargain," said Gellir, " I am 
minded to risk it." 

Said Ufeig : " Then have Egil and I talked the 
matter over already, and he deemed it nought hard 
to handle, and is come into the case. So now shall 
I counsel thee what to do. The company of you 
Banded Men are ever wont to go to church to- 
gether, nor will any man misdoubt it though thou 
and Egil talk what ye will as ye go to evensong." 

So Gellir took the money, and all is settled be- 
tween them. 

Then Ufeig went his ways towards Egil's booth, 
going neither slowly nor swerving about, nor bowed 
down ; and he telleth Egil how the matter standeth 
now, and that liketh him well. 

So afterward in the evening men go to evensong, 
and Egil and Gellir talk the matter over, and settle 
all between them, and no man misdoubted of it 
any whit. 

The Banded Men . 1 09 


NOW it is to be told that on the morrow 
men go to the Hill of Laws, and a great 
crowd is there ; and Egil andGellir gather 
their own friends together : Ufeig was of the com- 
pany of Styrmir and Thorarin. 

So when such as were looked for were come to 
the Hill of Laws, Ufeig craved silence and said : 
" Heretofore have I meddled not in this case of 
Odd my son ; but now I wot that here are those 
men who have been busiest in pushing the case. 
Of this charge I first of all appeal Hermund : 
though forsooth the case hath been set on foot 
with more wrong and rashness than men have yet 
to tell of; and in likewise has been carried on, 
and in likewise maybe will end But now I will 
ask this : Whether may the case be settled peace- 

Hermund answered : " We will take nought save 

Said Ufeig : " It is a thing unheard of that one 
man in one case should give selfdoom to eight men ; 
but that one should give it to one, that hath been 
heard of ; but whereas this case hath been pushed 
in a more masterful way than any other, I will now 
crave that two of thy company be judges." 

Hermund answered : " We will say yea to this, 
nor heed aught which twain shall adjudge." 

" Then ye will not begrudge me this small honour," 
said Ufeig, " to choose the twain whom I will of you 
Banded Men ? " 

''Yea, yea, so let it be," said Hermund. 

1 10 The Saga Library. 

Then said Thorarin : " Say yea to such things 
only to-day as thou ruest not to-morrow." 

" I will not call my words back," said Hermund. 

Now Ufeig seeks for sureties, and they were not 
hard to find, for the money was deemed to be in a 
sure place. 

Then men take hands, and they give hansel to 
the Banded Men of such fines as they whom Ufeig 
shall name may award, and the Banded Men hansel 
the voiding of the case. Now it is so determined that 
the Banded Men shall go out on to the fields with 
their company, and the folk of Egil and Gellir held 

So they sat down in a ring in a certain place, and 
Ufeig goeth into the ring, and peereth round about, 
and lifteth his cloak-hood : he standeth with his 
belly somewhat thrust out, stroking his arms ; he 
peereth round about with his eyes, and then saith : 

" There sittest thou, Styrmir, and men will deem 
it wondrous if I choose thee not for this case which 
is on my hands ; for I am of thy thingmen, and to 
thee should I look for helping, and many good gifts 
hast thou had of me, and rewarded everyone of 
them with ill. Methinks thou wert the first to shew 
thine enmity in this matter unto Odd my son, and 
it was thy doing chiefly that the case was set on 
foot. So thee will I set aside. 

" There sittest thou, Thorarin ; nor may any lay 
to thy charge that thou lackest wit to deal with this 
case : yet hast thou brought unthrift on Odd in this 
case, and with Styrmir wert the first to set afoot 
the case. Therefore thee will I not choose. 

" There sittest thou, Hermund, a great chieftain ! 

The Banded Men. 1 1 1 

and forsooth the case were meetly handled if thou 
hadst the handling of it : yet hast thou been the 
eagerest of men herein from the beginning, and 
clear as day it is that thou wouldst have our dis- 
honour clear as day ; nor hath aught drawn thee 
hereto saving shamelessness and greed ; for nought 
lackest thou of wealth. So thee I set aside. 

" There sittest thou, Jarnskeggi ! and art nought 
lacking in pride to judge the case ; and well enow 
wouldst thou be pleased to be master herein ; thou, 
who wert of such pride that thou lettest bear a 
banner before thee at the Vodla-thing, as before a 
king. Yet shalt thou not be king in this case ; 
and thee do I set aside." 

Now Ufeig casts his eyes about and says : 
" There sittest thou, Skeggbroddi ! is it true that 
King Harald Sigurdson said when thou wert with 
him that he deemed thee the meetest for a king of 
all men out here ? " 

Broddi answered : " Oft would the King talk 
well to me, but it is not so sure that he meant all 
that he said." 

Then said Ufeig: "Thou shalt be king over 
other matters than this case, and thee do I set 

" There sittest thou, Gellir," said Ufeig, " and 
nought hath drawn thee into this case save greedi- 
ness of money only ; but verily it is small blame to 
thee, so penniless as thou art, and so much as thou 
hast to do. And now, though ye be all worthy of 
ill, yet see I not but that some honour must be 
given to somebody ; for now are but few left, and 
I am loth to choose from them whom I have set 

1 1 2 The Saga Library. 

aside already; therefore thee I choose, because thou 
hast not heretofore been known for a wrongful man. 

" There sittest thou, Thorgeir Haldorason, and 
it is well known that no case ever fell to thy judging 
that was of any account ; for nought canst thou 
mete out judgment, having no more wits thereto 
than an ox or an ass ; and thee then I set aside." 

Then Ufeig looked round about, and there came 
a stave into his mouth : 

Evil it is 

When eld falleth on us, 
Snatching away 
Wisdom and eyesight : 
From eight men of avail 
Might I have chosen, 
Now on hook hangeth 
Nought but the wolf's-tail. 

" Yea," said he, " I fare as the wolves, who eat 
on till they come to the tail, unawares : I have had 
the choice of many chieftains, and now is he alone 
left whom all will think an evil choice ; and true 
indeed it is that he is unjuster than any, and 
heedeth not one thing more than another whereby 
he getteth money, so only he get it at last : yet is 
it pity of him, though he hath not been nice afore- 
time, that he should have fallen into this, where- 
into so many are fallen, who have heretofore been 
called righteous men, and yet now have cast aside 
manliness and uprightness to follow after wrong- 
doing and greed. 

" Well, none could have it in their heads that I 
should ever choose him, from whom all men look 
for evil, for no man of your fellowship is wilier : yet 
so it has to be, for all the rest have been set aside." 

The Banded Men. 1 1 3 

Then said Egil, and smiled withal : " Now yet 
again shall it be, as oft afore, that honour befalleth 
me, not because others will it : but now, Gellir, it 
behoveth us to stand up and go apart, and talk the 
matter over between us." 

So did they, and went away thence, and sat 
down ; then said Gellir : " What shall we say 
about it ? " 

Egil said : " It is my rede that we award a 
little money fine. I know not what else may come 
of it, but of a sooth it will not be friendship for 

" Will it not be full enough," said Gellir, " if we 
award thirteen ounces of evil silver ? for most un- 
righteously was the case set afoot ; and the worse 
they like it, the better it is : yet am I not fain to 
give out the award ; for meseemeth we shall be 
evil looked on." 

" Do which thou wilt," said Egil ; " give out the 
award, or sit to outface the answers." 

" Then I choose to give out the award," said 

And therewith they go to meet the Banded 

Then said Hermund : "Stand we up and hearken 
to the shaming." 

Said Gellir : " Later on we shall wax no wiser, 
and it all comes to this, that we, Egil and I, award 
thirteen ounces of silver to us Banded Men." 

Then said Hermund : " Heard I aright : saidst 
thou thirteen tens of silver ounces ?" 

Answereth Egil : " Wert thou then a-sitting on 
thine ear, Hermund, since thou stoodest up ? 


1 14 The Saga Library. 

Thirteen ounces good sooth, and that of such 
money as none but a wretch would take : paid shall 
it be in scrapings of shields and scraps of rings ; 
yea, in all that is most worthless, and shall like you 

Said Hermund : " Thou hast betrayed us, Egil." 
" Yea," said Egil, "dost thou deem thee betrayed ?" 
" Betrayed I deem me, and thou it is hast betrayed 
me," said Hermund. 

Egil answered : " It likes me well to betray him 
who trusteth no man, nay, not even himself : me- 
seemeth my tongue may find a true tale thereof ; 
for in the thickest of fogs thou didst hide away thy 
money, with the mind that if ever it came into thy 
heart to look for it, thou mightst not find it." 

Said Hermund: " This is like the rest of thy 
lying, like as thou saidest in the winter-tide, Egil, 
when thou earnest to me at my bidding from thy 
wreck of a house at Burg in Yule-tide : and right 
glad wert thou thereat, as was like to be ; and when 
Yule was spent, thou grewest sad, as was like to be, 
thinking it hard to have to go home to that misery : 
but I, when I saw that, bade thee abide still, thou 
and another with thee ; and thou tookest that, and 
wert fain thereof: but in spring-tide after Easter, 
when thou wert come home to Burg, thou saidst 
that thirty ice-horses had died, and had all been 
eaten by us." 

Egil answered : " I know not how over-much 
may be said about thy misery ; otherwise I believe 
little or nothing was eaten of them : but all men 
wot that I and my men lack never for meat, how- 
beit that I find it not so easy to come by money : 

The Banded Men. 1 1 5 

but such is the housekeeping at thy house, that 
thou needest say nought about it." 

" I would well," said Hermund, " that we twain 
were not at the Thing another summer." 

" Now will I say," said Egil, " what I never 
thought to say, and bid bless thine opening mouth ! 
for it was foretold of me that I should die of old 
age, and all the better were I content if the trolls 
took thee first." 

Then said Styrmir : " He sayeth soothest of 
thee, Egil, who sayeth worst, and calleth thee a 

" Now we get on well," said Egil ; " the more 
thou blamest me and the truer thou deemest it, 
the better it liketh me ; for I have been told that 
when for your ale-joyance ye would play at the 
mating of men, thou wouldst pair thyself with me. 
Well, it is indeed true that thou hast certain wiles 
about thee whereof other men wot not ; thou must 
know thine own heart best : but in one thing are 
we unlike : for either of us hath promised the 
other help at need, and I have given it when I 
might, and have in nought spared me, but thou 
rannest so soon as the blackshanks were aloft. 
True it is also that I have ever been unthriving 
in my house, yet grudge I meat to no man, while 
thou art a meat-begrudger ; and for a token thereof 
hast a vessel called Meatluck, and no man who 
cometh into thy garth knoweth what is in him but 
thyself alone. Now it is but meet to me that my 
house should have hard times when lack is, but less 
than meet for a man to pinch his house when lack 
is not. Think now what man this is ! " 

1 1 6 The Saga Library. 

Then Styrmir held his peace, and Thorarin 
stood up, but Egil said: " Hold thy peace, Thorarin, 
and sit down and lay not another word hereto ! 
Else will I lay such a word on thee as thou hadst 
been better silent. I see nought to laugh at in it, 
though the lads laugh, that thou sittest pinched up 
with thy thighs glued together." 

Thorarin said : " Wholesome rede will we hold 
to, whencesoever it cometh." And he sat down 
and held his peace. 

Then spake Thorgeir : " All may see that this 
award is without reason and foolish, to award thirteen 
ounces of silver and no more in so great a case." 

" But I had thought," said Egil, " that thou hadst 
seen reason enough in the award ; and so wilt thou, 
if thou think about thyself therewith ; for then wilt 
thou remember how at the Rangar-leet a certain cot- 
carle made thirteen stripes on thine head, and thou 
tookest therefor thirteen ewes with their sucklings : 
then meseems thou wilt deem the token good enow." 

Thorgeir held his peace, and as for Jarnskeggi 
and Skegbroddi they would have no words with 

Then said Ufeig : " Now shall I sing you a 
stave for the better memory of this Thing, and 
the ending of the case that hath here betid." 

This grove of metal mostly 
Shall find its honour minished ; 
Glad give I forth such tidings, 
Of the strife 'twixt dwarf and giant. 
The land of hats of high ones 
Have I the unwealthy hoodwinked, 
And in the eyes of chieftains 
Cast I the dust of gold rings. 

The Banded Men. 1 1 7 

Egil answered : " Well mayest thou boast over 
it, for no one man hath so fearlessly flown in the 
face of so many great men." 

Now after this men went home to their booths, 
and Gellir spake to Egil, saying : " I will that we 
hold us both together with our men." And they 
did so. 

Much muttering of threats there was for the 
rest of the Thing, and the Banded Men were ex- 
ceeding ill-content with this ending of the case. 
As for that money no man would have it, and it 
kicked about the meads there. 

Now men ride home from the Thing. 


N" OW that father and son meet, and Odd 
was now ready dight for sea. So Ufeig 
tells Odd that he has given the Banded 
Men self-doom. 

" Most miserable man," said Odd, " to make 
such ending of the case ! " 

Saith Ufeig : " All is not lost yet, kinsman," 
and therewith he tells him of the whole process of 
the case, and how that he has wooed a wife for 
him. Odd thanks him well for his help, and deems 
he has pushed the case far beyond what he had 
thought might be ; and now he says that Ufeig 
shall never lack money. 

" Thou shalt depart now," said Ufeig, " as thou 
wert minded ; but the wedding shall be holden at 
Mel in six weeks space." Thereafter departed 
the father and son in all love ; but Odd put to 

1 1 8 Tlie Saga Library. 

sea, and the wind served him to Thorgeirs-firth, 
where there were lying certain chapmen ; there the 
wind failed them, and they lay there some nights. 
Odd thought the wind long a-coming, so he went 
up on to a high fell, and thence saw that there was 
wind in another quarter outside : then he went back 
to his ship and bade flit her out of the firth ; the 
Eastmen mocked them, saying that it was a long 
row to Norway ; but Odd said : "How may we wot 
but that ye shall bide us here ? " 

So when they were come out of the firth straight- 
way was the wind fair, and they struck not sail be- 
fore they came to the Orkneys : there Odd bought 
malt and corn, and abode there awhile and arrayed 
his ship. But even so soon as he was ready came 
an east wind, and they sailed ; weather full fair they 
had, and came to Thorgeirs-firth and found the 
chapmen still there. Then Odd sailed west along 
the land, and came to Midfirth when he had now 
been away seven weeks. 

So was the bridal dight, and there lacked not 
for good cheer and plenteous : much folk came 
thither ; there were Gellir and Egil, and many 
other great men. 

The feast was holden well and gloriously, and 
men deemed no better wedding had been holden 
here in the land. 

So when the feast was spent, then were men led 
out with great gifts, but most of wealth went to 
Gellir's share. 

Then spake Gellir to Odd : "I would that 
Egil were well treated ; for he is full worthy 

The Banded Men. 1 19 

" Meseemeth," said Odd, "that my father hath 
already done well by him." 

" Yea, but do thou better that," said Gellir. 

So Gellir rode away, he and his. Egil also 
rideth away, and Odd bringeth him on his road, 
and thanketh him for his help : " I may not do so 
well by thee as should be," said he, " but I have let 
drive yesterday south to Burg sixty wethers and two 
oxen, and they will abide thee at home : nor will I 
ever treat thee but well whiles we both live." 

So they parted, and Egil was right well pleased, 
and they bound fast their friendship. So fared 
Egil home to Burg. 


THAT same harvest gathereth Hermund 
folk, and fareth out to Hwammsleet, being 
minded for Burg to burn Egil in his house : 
but when they came out by Valfell, they heard as 
if a string twanged up in the fell, and thereon Her- 
mund felt a sickness, and a smart under his arm, 
and theyliad to turn back, and the sickness waxed 
heavy upon him ; and when they were come by 
Thorgaut-stead they had to lift him off, and then 
they fared to Sidamuli for a priest, but when he 
came Hermund was speechless ; so the priest abode 
by him, and on a time as the priest looked on 
him there came a murmur on to his lips : " Two 
hundreds in the ghyll, two hundreds in the 

And therewithal he gave up the ghost, and so 
ended his life-days, even as is here said. 

1 20 The Saga Library. 

Now abideth Odd at his house in great estate ; 
and his wife he loveth well. 

All this while nought had been heard of Uspak : 
a man named Mar married Swala ; he was the son 
of Hildi ; he took up his abode at Swalastead ; a 
brother he had named Bialfi, half-witted, but a 
strong man. There was one named Bergthor, who 
dwelt at Bodvarsknolls : he had summed up the 
case when Uspak was outlawed ; and so on an eve 
at Bodvarsknolls, when men were sitting by the 
fires, it fell out that one came and smote on the 
door and bade the master come out ; but the master 
wotted that Uspak was come there, and said that 
he would nowise go out. Uspak egged him much 
thereto, but none the more would he go, and all 
others he forbade to stir abroad ; so they two 
parted. But on the morrow when women came to 
the byre, lo ! nine cows wounded to death. This 
was heard of far and wide. 

Again, as time wore on, it befell that a man came 
to Swalastead, and into the hall wherein slept Mar: 
that man went up to the bed, and thrust Mar 
through with a sax. It was Uspak, and he sang : 

Drew I new-grinded 
Glaive from scabbard, 
Against the maw 
Of Mar I sped it, 
So sore I grudged 
That son of Hildi 
The breast of Swala 
Shapely fashioned. 

Even therewith, as he turned toward the door, 

up sprang Bialfi, and thrust at him with a whittle. 

Uspak went to a house called Burgknolls, and 

The Banded Men. 1 2 1 

declared the slaying there ; then he went his ways, 
and nought was heard of him for a while. The 
slaying of Mar was heard of far and wide, and 
deemed a dreadful hap. Then came this tidings, 
that the best stallions Odd owned, five together, 
were found dead, which deed folk laid on Uspak. 
But now a long while wore, and nought was 
heard of him ; but in harvest, when men went 
after the wethers, they found a cave in certain 
rocks, and in the cave a dead man, beside whom 
stood a basin of blood as black as tar. This was 
Uspak, and folk deemed that the hurt Bialfi had 
given him must have grieved him, and that he had 
died from want of help : so ended his life-days. 
It is not told that there was any blood-suit for the 
slaying of Mar, or the slaying of Uspak. 

Odd abode at Mel till his old age, and was 
deemed a most noble man ; from him are come the 
Midfirthers, Snorri Kalfson, and many other great 

Ever after endured the goodwill and kindly 
affection between the father and son. And here 
endeth this story. 









THERE was a man hight Odd, the son of 
Onund Broadbeard, the son of Wolf of 
Fitiar, the son of Thorir the Stamper ; he 
dwelt at Broadlairstead in Reekdale of Burgfirth. 
His wife was Jorun, a wise woman and well 
spoken of. Four children had they, two sons of 
good conditions, and two daughters : one of their 
sons hight Thorod, and the other Thorwald ; 
Thurid was one daughter of Odd, and Jofrid the 
other. Odd was by-named Odd-a-Tongue ; he 
was not held for a man of fair dealings. 

A man named Torfi, the son of Valbrand, the 
son of Valthiof, the son of Orlyg of Esjuberg, had 
wedded Thurid, daughter of Odd-a-Tongue, and 
they dwelt at the other Broadlairstead. 

There was a man hight Arngrim, the son of 
Helgi, the son of Hogni, who came out with Hro- 
mund ; he dwelt at Northtongue ; he was called 
Arngrim the priest, and his son was Helgi. 

There was a man hight Blundketil, son of Geir 
the Wealthy, the son of Ketil Blund, after whom 

1 26 The Saga Library. 

is Blundwater named : he dwelt at Ornolfsdale 
somewhat above where the house now standeth ; 
there were many steads upward from it ; and his 
son was Herstein. Blundketil was the wealthiest 
of all men, and the best conditioned of all men of 
the ancient faith ; thirty tenants he had, and was 
the best-beloved man of the countryside. 

There was a man called Thorkel Welt, the son 
of Red Biorn ; he dwelt at Swigniskarth, west-away 
of Northwater. Helgi his brother dwelt at Hwamm 
in North waterdale ; another brother was Gunnwald, 
who had to wife Helga, daughter of Thorgeir of 
Withymere. Thorkel Welt was a wise man and 
well-befriended, very wealthy of goods. 

There was a certain man hight Thorir, needy 
of money, not well-loved of the folk : his wont it 
was to go a-huckstering in summer-tide from one 
countryside to the other, selling in one place what 
he had bought in another ; by which peddling his 
wealth waxed fast; and on a time when he went 
from the south over Holtbeacon Heath, he had 
hens with him in his journey to the north country, 
and sold them with his other wares, wherefore 
was he called Hen Thorir. 

Now throve Thorir so much that he bought him 
land at a place called the Water, up from North- 
tongue, and but a few winters had he set up house 
before he became so very wealthy that he had 
moneys out with well-nigh every man. Yet though 
his fortune were amended, yet still prevailed his 
ill favour amongst men, for hardly was there any 
so well-hated as was Hen Thorir. 

Hen Thorir. 127 


ON a day Thorir went his ways from home 
and rode to Northtongue to see Arngrim 
the priest, and craved to have the foster- 
ing of a child of his. " I would," said he, "take 
to me Helgi thy son, and heed him all I can, and 
have thy friendship in return, and furtherance herein, 
to wit, the getting of my rights from men." 

Arngrim answered : " Little furtherance to me 
do I see in this fostering." Answered Thorir : " I 
will give the lad my money to the half-part rather 
than lose the fostering of him : but thou shalt right 
me and be bound thereto, with whomsoever I may 
have to do." 

Arngrim answered : " Sooth to say, I will not 
put from me so good an offer." 

So Helgi went home with Thorir, and the stead 
has been called thenceforward Helgi water. And 
now Arngrim gave an eye to Thorir's business, 
and straightway men deemed him harder yet to 
deal with ; he got his rights now of every man, 
and throve exceedingly in wealth, and became 
an exceeding rich man, but his ill favour stuck to 

On a summer came a ship into Burgfirth, but lay 
not in the river-mouth, but in the roads without. 
Erne was the shipmaster's name, a man well-liked, 
and the best of chapman-lads. Now Odd heard of 
the ship's coming, and he was wont to come in 
good time to the opening of markets, and settle 
the prices of men's ladings, for he had the rule of 

1 28 The Saga Library. 

the countryside; neither durst any man fall to 
chaffer before they wotted what he would do. So 
now he went to the chapmen, and asked them what 
they had a mind to do about their voyage, and how 
soon they would have their market; and there- 
withal he told them of his wont of settling the prices 
of men's ladings. Erne answered : " We have a 
mind to be masters of our own for all thou mayst 
have to say; since not a penny's worth in the 
lading is thine ; so this time thy words will be 
mightier than thy deeds." 

Odd answered : " I misdoubt me that it will do 
worse for thee than for me : so be it then ; for hereby 
I proclaim that I forbid all men to have any chaffer 
with you, or to land any goods ; yea, I shall take 
money from all such as give you any help ; and I 
know that ye shall not away out of the haven be- 
fore the spring-tide." 

Erne answered : " Say what thou wilt ; but none 
the more for that will we let ourselves be cowed." 

Now Odd rides home, but the Eastmen lie in 
the haven wind-bound. 


THE next day Herstein, Blundketil's son, 
rode west to Akraness, and he met the 
Eastmen as he came back, and found an 
old acquaintance in the master, and that was much 
to his mind. 

Erne told Herstein what great wrong Odd 
had offered them. " And," quoth he, " we mis- 

Hen Thorir. 129 

doubt us how we shall go about our affair." So 
they talked together daylong, and at eve rides Her- 
stein home, and tells his father of the mariners to 
what pass their business has come. Blundketil 
answered : " I know the man now from thy story of 
him, for I was with his father when I was a child, 
nor ever fell I in with a fellow better at need than 
was he : so ill it is that his son is hard bestead, 
and his father would look to me to take some heed 
to his fortune if need were ; so betimes to-morrow 
shalt thou ride down to the Haven, and bid him 
hither with as many men as he will ; or if he be 
liefer thereto, then will I flit him north or south, or 
where he will; and I will help him with all my 
heart as far as in me lies." 

Herstein said it was good rede and manly : " Yet 
it is to be looked for that we shall have some folks' 
displeasure for it." Blundketil answered : "Whereas 
we have to carry about nought worse than Odd, 
we may lightly bear it." So weareth the night, 
and betimes on the morrow Blundketil let gather 
horses from the pastures, and when all was ready 
Herstein drave an hundred horses to meet the 
chapmen, nor need they crave any from any other 
stead. So he came thitherto them, and told Erne 
what his father had taken on himself. Erne said 
he would take that with a good heart, but that he 
deemed the father and son would have the enmity 
of others for it ; but Herstein said they heeded it 
nought. Then said Erne : " Well, my crew shall 
be flitted into other countrysides, for the risk is 
enough, though we be not all in one and the same 
house." So Herstein had Erne and his lading home 


130 The Saga Library. 

with him, and left not before all the chapmen were 
gone, and the ship laid up, and all brought into due 

Blundketil received Erne wondrous well, and 
there he abode in good entertainment. 

But now were tidings brought to Odd of what 
Blundketil had done, and men talk over it, and say 
that he had set himself up against Odd thereby. 
Odd answereth : " So may folk say; but Blundketil 
is such a man as is both sturdy and well-beloved, so 
I will even let the matter alone." 

And so all is quiet. 


THAT summer was the grass light and bad, 
and hay-harvest poor because of the wet, 
and men had exceeding small hay-stores. 
Blundketil went round to his tenants that autumn, 
and told them that he would have his rents paid in 
hay on all his lands : " For I have much cattle to 
fodder, and little hay enow ; but I will settle how 
much is to be slaughtered this autumn in every 
house of my tenants, and then will matters go well." 

Now weareth summer away and cometh winter, 
and there soon began to be exceeding scarcity north 
about the Lithe, and but little store there was to 
meet it, and men were hard pressed. So weareth 
the time over Yule, and when Thorri-tide was come 
folk were sore pinched, and for many the game 
was up. 

But on an evening came to Blundketil one of his 
tenants, and told him that hay had failed him, and 

Hen Thorir. 131 

prayed deliverance of him. Master Blundketil 
answered : "How cometh that ? I deemed that I 
had so looked to it in the autumn that things would 
be like to go well." 

The man answered that less had been slaughtered 
than he had commanded. Then said Blundketil : 
" Well, let us make a bargain together : I will de- 
liver thee from thy trouble this time, but thou shalt 
tell no man thereof ; because I would not that folk 
should fall to coming on me : all the less since ye 
have not kept my commandment." 

So that man fared home, and told his friend that 
Blundketil was peerless among men in all dealings, 
and that he had helped him at his need ; and that 
man in turn told his friend, and so the matter be- 
came known all over the countryside. 

Time wore and Go'i came, and therewith came 
two more of the tenants to Blundketil, and told 
him that they were out of hay. Blundketil an- 
swered : " Ye have done ill in departing from my 
counsel ; for so it is, that though I have hay good 
store, yet have I more beasts therewithal : now if 
I help you, then shall I have nought for my own 
stock ; lo you ! that is the choice herein. But they 
pressed the case, and bewailed their misery, till 
he thought it pity of their moans, and so let drive 
home an hundred and forty horses, and let slay 
forty of the worst of them, and gave his tenants 
the fodder these should have had : so they fare 
home glad at heart. But the winter worsened as 
it wore, and the hope of many a man was quenched. 

132 The Saga Library. 


N" OW when One-month was come came 
two more of Blundketil's tenants to him ; 
they were somewhat better to do, but 
their hay had failed them now, and they prayed 
him to deliver them. He answered and said that 
he had not wherewithal, and that he would slaughter 
no more beasts. Then they asked if he knew of 
any man who had hay to sell, and he said he 
knew not for certain ; but they drive on the matter, 
saying that their beasts must die if they get no 
help of him ; he said : " It is your own doing ; but 
I am told that Hen Thorir will have hay to sell." 

They said : " We shall get nought of him unless 
thou go along with us, but he will straightway 
sell to us if thou become our surety in the 

He answers : " I may do as much as to go 
with you, for it is meet that they should sell who 

So they fare betimes in the morning, and there 
was a drift of wind from the north, which was 
somewhat cold ; master Thorir was standing with- 
out at the time, and when he saw folk coming 
toward the garth, in he walks again, shuts to the 
door, draws the bolt, and goes to his day-meal. 
Now was the door smitten on, and the lad Helgi 
took up the word and said : " Go thou out, foster- 
father, for here be men come to see thee." Thorir 
said he would eat his meat first ; but the lad ran 
from the table, and came to the door and greeted 

Hen Thorir. 133 

the new-comers well. Blundketil asked if Thorir 
were within, and the lad said that so it was. " Bid 
him come out to us then," said Blundketil. The 
lad did so, and said that Blundketil was without, 
and would see Thorir. He answered : " Wherefore 
must Blundketil be sniffing about here ? It is won- 
drous if he come for any good ; I have nought to 
do with him." 

Then goes the lad and says that Thorir will 
not come out. " Then shall we go in," said Blund- 
ketil. So they go into the chamber and are greeted 
there, but Thorir held his peace. " Things are 
come to this, Thorir," said Blundketil, "that we 
would buy hay of thee." 

Thorir answered : " Thy money is no better to 
me than mine own." 

" That is as it may be," said Blundketil. 

Thorir said : "How comest thou, rich man as 
thou art, to lack hay ? " " Nay, I am not come to 
that," said Blundketil ; " I am dealing for my 
tenants here, who verily need help, and I would 
fain get it for them if it were to be got." 

Said Thorir : " Thou art right welcome to give 
to others of thine own, but not of mine." 

Blundketil answered : " We will not ask a gift : 
let Odd and Arngrim be thine umpires, and I will 
give thee gifts moreover." 

Thorir said : " I have no hay to sell ; and, more- 
over, I will not sell it." Then went Blundketil out, 
and those fellows and the lad with them ; and then 
Blunketil took up the word and said : " Which is 
it, that thy foster-father has no hay, or that he 
will not sell it ? " 

134 The Saga Library. 

" Hay enough he has to sell if he would," an- 
swers the lad. Blundketil said : " Bring us to where 
the haystacks are." 

He did so, and then Blundketil made a reckoning 
of the fodder for Thorir's stock, and made out 
that if they were all stall-fed up to the time of the 
Althing, there would still be of the hay five stacks 
over ; so herewith they go in again, and Blundketil 
says : " I reckon about thy stock of hay, Thorir, 
that if all thy beasts were fed at stall till the Althing, 
there would yet be a good deal left over ; and that 
would I buy of thee." Thorir answered : " And 
what shall I do for hay next winter then, if it is 
like this or worse ? " Says Blundketil : " I will 
give thee the choice to take just the same lot of 
hay and no worse in the summer, and I will bring 
it into thy garth for thee." 

Thorir answered : " If thou hast no store of hay 
now, why shouldst thou have more in the summer ? 
but I know there is such odds of might between 
us, that thou mayest take my hay in despite of me 
if thou wilt." 

Blundketil answers : " That is not the way to 
take it : thou wottest that silver goeth in all the 
markets of the land here, and therein will I pay 

" I will not have thy silver," said Thorir. 

"Then take thou such wares as Odd and Arn- 
grim shall award thee," said Blundketil. 

" Here are but few workmen," said Thorir, "and 
I like going about but little, nor will I be dragged 
hither and thither in such dealings." 

Blundketil answereth : " Then shall I let bear 

Hen Thorir. 135 

the goods home for thee." Thorir said : " I have no 
house-room for them, and they shall certainly be 

Answereth Blundketil : " I shall get thee hides, 
then, to do over them, so that they shall be safe." 

Thorir answers : " I will not have other men 
scratching about in my store-houses." 

Says Blundketil : " Then shall they be at my 
house through the winter, and I will take care of 
them for thee." 

" I know all thy babble now," said Thorir, " and 
I will in no wise deal with thee." 

Blundketil said : " Then must things go a worser 
road ; for the hay will we have all the same, though 
thou forbid it, and lay the price thereof in its stead, 
making the most of it that we are many." 

Then Thorir held his peace, but his mind was 
nothing good. Blundketil let take ropes and bind 
up the hay, and then they hove it up in loads on 
to the horses and bore it away ; but made up the 
price in full. 


N" OW shall we tell what Thorir fell to : he 
gat him gone from home with Helgi his 
foster-son, and they ride to Northtongue, 
and are greeted there wondrous well, and Arngrim 
asks for tidings. Thorir answered : " I have heard 
of nought newer than the robbery." 

" Nay, now, what robbery ? " said Arngrim. 
Thorir answered : " Blundketil has robbed me 

136 The Saga Library. 

of all my hay, so that there is hardly a wisp left to 
throw to the neat in the cold weather." 

" Is it so, Helgi ? " asked Arngrim. 

" Not one whit," said Helgi ; " Blundketil did 
right well in the matter." And therewith he told 
how the thing had gone between them. 

Then said Arngrim : " Yea, that is more like ; 
and the hay that he hath gotten is better bestowed 
than that which shall rot on thine hands." 

Thorir answered : "In an evil hour I offered 
fostering to thy child ; forsooth, whatsoever ill deed 
is done to me in mine own house none the more 
shall I be righted here, or holpen at thine hands ; 
a mighty shame is that to thee." 

Arngrim answers : " Forsooth, that was a rash 
deed from the first, for I wot that in thee I have to 
do with an evil man." 

" Nay, words will not slay me," said Thorir ; 
" but I am ill content that thou rewardest my good 
deeds in such wise ; but so it is that what men rob 
from me is taken from thee no less." They parted 
with things in such a plight. Thorir rides away, 
and comes to Broadlairstead, where Odd greeted 
him well, and asked for tidings. 

" Nought have I heard newer than the robbery," 
said Thorir. "Nay, now, what robbery?" said 

Thorir answered : " Blundketil took all my hay, 
so that my store is clean gone ; and I would fain 
have thy furtherance ; moreover, the matter toucheth 
thee, whereas thou art a ruler in the countryside, 
to right what is wrong ; and thou mayest call to 
mind withal that he hath made himself thy foe." 

Hen Thorir. 137 

Odd asked : " Is it so, Helgi ? " He answered that 
Thorir had wrested the matter clean away from the 
truth, and he set forth how the whole thing had 
gone. Odd answered : " I will have nought to do 
with it ; I should have done likewise if need had 
been." Said Thorir : " True is the saw that saith, 
' Best but to hear of woeful thanes ; ' and this also : 
' A man's foes are those of his own house.' " 

Therewithal rides Thorir away, and Helgi with 
him, and home he fareth ill-content. 


THORWALD, the son of Odd-a-Tongue, 
had come ashore that summer in the north 
country, and had guested there through 
the winter ; but as it drew toward summer he fared 
from the north to go see his father, and abode a 
night at Northtongue in good cheer. Now there 
was a man guesting there already, called Vidfari, a 
gangrel man, who went from one corner of the land 
to the other ; he was nigh akin to Thorir, and like 
to him in mind and mood. So that same evening 
he gathered up his clothes and took to his heels, 
and ran away, and stayed not till he came to 
Thorir, who welcomed him with open arms, saying, 
" Surely something good will come to me of thy 
coming." He answered : " That may well be, for 
now is Thorwald Oddson come to Northtongue, 
and is a-guesting there now." 

Said Thorir: " I thought I saw some good coming 
to me from thine hands, so well was all with 

138 The Saga Library. 

So weareth the night, and the first thing on the 
morrow rideth Thorir with his foster-son to North- 
tongue : thereto was come much folk, but the lad 
had a seat given to him, while Thorir wandered 
about the floor. 

Now Thorwald, a-sitting on the dais, sets eyes 
on him as he talks privily to Arngrim, of whom he 
asketh : " What man is he wandering about the 
floor yonder ? " 

Arngrim answereth : " That is my son's fosterer." 

" Yea," says Thorwald ; " why shall he not have 
a seat then ? " 

Arngrim says : " That is no matter of thine." 

" Well, it shall not be so," says Thorwald ; and 
he lets call Thorir to him therewith, and gives him 
a seat beside himself, and asks for the tidings most 
spoken about. Thorir answered : " Sore was I 
tried whereas Blundketil robbed me." 

" Are ye at one on it ? " said Thorwald. 

" Far from it," said Thorir. 

" How cometh it, Arngrim," said Thorwald, 
" that ye great men let such shameful doings go 
on? " 

Arngrim answered : " It is mostly lies, and 
there is but little in the bottom of the matter." 

" Yet it was true that he had the hay ? " said 

" Yea," said Arngrim, " he had it sure enough." 

" Every man has a right to rule his own," says 
Thorwald ; " and withal your friendship for him 
goes for little if thou let him be trodden under 

" Thou art dear to my heart, Thorwald," said 

Hen Thorir. 139 

Thorir, "and my heart tells me that thou wilt 
right my case somewhat." 

Said Thorwald : " I am but feeble to lean on." 

Thorir said : " I will give thee half my wealth 
for the righting of my case, that I may have either 
outlawry or self-doom, so that my foes may not sit 
over mine own." 

Arngrim said : " Do it not, Thorwald, for in him 
ye have no trusty fellow to back up ; and in Blund- 
ketil thou wilt have to do with a man both wise 
and mighty, and well befriended on all sides." 

" I see," said Thorwald, " that envy hath got hold 
of thee for my taking of his money, and that thou 
grudgest it me." 

Said Thorir : " Consider, Thorwald, that my 
wealth will be found to be in good kind ; and other 
men wot that far and wide money for mine own 
goods is withheld from me." 

Arngrim said : " I would fain hinder thee still, 
Thorwald, from taking up this case, but thou must 
even do as it seemeth good to thee ; I misdoubt me 
though, that things great and evil will come of this." 

Thorwald answers : " Well, I will not refuse 
wealth offered." 

Now hansels Thorir half his wealth to him, and 
therewith the case against Blundketil. 

Then spake Arngrim again : "How art thou 
minded to set about the case ?" Thorwald answered : 
" I shall first go see my father, and take counsel 
with him." 

" Nay," said Thorir, " that is not to my mind : 
I will not hang back now I have staked so much 
hereon ; I will have you go summon Blundketil 

140 The Saga Library. 

forthwith to-morrow." Thorwald answereth : " It 
will be seen of thee that thou art no lucky man, 
and ill will be born of thee ; yet now thou must 
needs have thy way." 

So he and Thorir bind themselves to meet on 
the morrow at a place appointed. 


BETIMES on the morrow, therefore, rides 
Thorwald and Arngrim with him, thirty 
men in company, and meet Thorir, who had 
but two with him, Helgi Arngrimson, to wit, and 
Vidfari, Thorir's kinsman. " Why are ye so few, 
Thorir," said Thorwald. Thorir answered : " I 
knew well that ye would not lack men." 

So they ride up along the Lithe, and their going 
was seen from the steads, and every man ran from 
out his house, and he thought himself happiest who 
got first to Blundketil's, so that a many men awaited 
them there. 

Thorwald and his folk ride up to the garth, and 
leap off their horses, and walk up to the house. 
Blundketil sees it and goes to meet them and bids 
them take due entertainment. Said Thorwald : 
" Other errand have we here than the eating of 
meat ; I will wot how thou wilt answer for that 
matter of the taking of Thorir's hay in his despite." 
" Even as to him," said Blundketil, " award it at 
what price soever ye will, and to thee will I give 
gifts over and above ; the better and the more 
to thee as thou art the more worthy than Thorir ; 

Hen Thorir. 141 

and I shall make thine honour so great, that all 
men shall be a-talking of it how thou art well 

Thorwald was silent, for he deemed this well 
offered, but Thorir answered and said : " We will 
not take it; there is no need to think of it ; this 
choice I had erewhile, and little do I deem me 
holpen if so it be ; and it avails me little that I have 
given thee my wealth." 

Then said Thorwald : " What wilt thou do, 
Blundketil, as to the law herein ? " 

" Nothing but this, that thou award and shape 
it thyself alone, even as thou wilt." 

Then answered Thorwald : " Well, meseemeth, 
there is nothing for it but to take the case into 
court." And therewith he summoned Blundketil 
for robbery, naming witnesses thereto, and his 
words and the summoning were of the hardest that 

Now turneth Blundketil back toward the house, 
and meeteth Erne the Eastman a-going about his 
wares. Erne asked : " Art thou wounded, master, 
that thou art red as blood ? " 

" Nay, I am not wounded," said he, " but I had 
as lief be, for I have had words said to me that 
never have been uttered before ; I am called thief 
and robber." 

Erne takes his bow and sets an arrow on the 
string, and he comes out just as the others were a- 
leaping a-horseback ; he shot, and a man met the 
arrow, and sank down from his horse who but 
Helgi, son of Arngrim the priest they ran to him, 
but Thorir pushed forward between them, and 

142 The Saga Library. 

thrust the men from him, bidding them give place : 
" For this concerneth me most." He bent down 
over Helgi, who was verily dead by now ; but 
Thorir said : " Is there yet a little might in thee, 
foster-son ? " Then he arose from the corpse and 
said : " The lad spake twice to me in the same 
wise, even thus : ' Burn ! Burn Blundketil In! ' 

Then answered Arngrim and said : " Now it 
fares as I misdoubted ; for, Oft cometh ill from 
an ill man ; and verily I feared that great ill would 
come from thee, Thorir, and now, in spite of thy 
babble, I wot not if the lad really spoke it, though 
it is not unlike that it will come to that ; for evilly 
the thing began, and in likewise shall end mayhap." 
" Meseemeth," said Thorir, " that something lieth 
nearer to thine hand than scolding at me." 

So Arngrim and his folk ride away to the edge 
of a wood and leap off their horses, and abide there 
till nightfall. 

Blundketil thanked his men well for their help- 
ing, and so bade every man ride his ways home as 
he best might. 


SO it is said that at nightfall Thorwald and 
his company ride to the house at Ornolfs- 
dale, where all folk were now asleep ; there 
they drag a stack of brushwood to the house, and 
set fire thereto; and Blundketil and his folk awoke 
not before the house was ablaze over them. 

Blundketil asked who had lighted that hot fire, 
and Thorir told who they were. Blundketil asked 

Hen Thorir. 143 

if aught might get him peace ; but Thorir said : 
" There is nought for it but to burn." And they de- 
parted not before every man's child therein was 
burnt up. 

Now Herstein, Blundketil's son, had gone that 
evening to his foster-father, Thorbiorn, who was 
by-named the Strider, and of whom it was said 
that he was not always all utterly there where he 
was seen. So Herstein awoke the next morning, 
and asked his foster-father if he were awake. 
" Yea," said he, " what wilt thou ?" 

" Medreamed that my father came in hither with 
his raiment all ablaze, and even as one flame he 
seemed to me." Then they arise and go out, and 
see the fire presently : so they take their weapons, 
and go thither in haste ; but all men were gone 
away by then they came thither. Said Herstein : 
" Woeful tidings have befallen here ; what rede 
now ? " 

Thorbiorn answers : "Now will I make the most 
of the offer which Odd-a-Tongue hath often made 
me, to come to him if I were in any need." 

" Nought hopeful I deem that," saith Herstein. 
But they go nevertheless, and come to Broadlair- 
stead, and call out Odd ; who cometh out and 
greeteth them, and asketh for tidings ; so they told 
him what had come to pass, and he spake as deem- 
ing it ill. Then Thorbiorn taketh up the word : 
" So it is, master Odd," saith he, " that thou hast 
promised me thy furtherance ; now therefore will I 
take it of thee if thou wilt give us some good 
rede, and bring it to pass." 

Odd said that he would do even so; and so they 

144 The Saga Library. 

ride to Ornolfsdale, and come there before day ; by 
then were the houses fallen in, and the fire was 
growing pale. 

So Odd rideth to a certain house that was not 
utterly burned ; there he laid hold of a birch rafter, 
and pulled it down from the house, and then rode 
with the burning brand withershins round about 
the house, and spake : " Here take I land to my- 
self, for here I see no house inhabited ; hearken 
ye to this all witnesses hereby." And therewithal 
he smote his horse, and rode away. Then said 
Herstein : "What rede now ? This one has turned 
out ill." Said Thorbiorn : " Hold thou thy peace 
if thou mayest, whatsoever befall." 

Herstein answered and said that all he had 
spoken hitherto was not overmuch forsooth. Now 
the outbower wherein was the lading of the East- 
men was unburned, and much other goods was there- 
in moreover. Herewith old Thorbiorn vanished 
away, and as Herstein looked on the house, he saw 
this outbower opened, and the goods borne out, but 
yet beheld no man. Then are the goods bound up 
into loads ; and then he hears a great clatter in the 
home-mead, and lo ! his father's horses are being 
driven home, and the sheep, and the neat from the 
byre, and all the live-stock : then were the loads 
heaved up, and the whole drove went their ways, 
and every penny's- worth brought off. Then Her- 
stein turned about, and saw that master Thorbiorn 
was driving the cattle. 

So they wend their ways down along the country- 
side to Staffholts-tongue, and so west over North- 

Hen Thorir. 145 


THE shepherd of Thorkel Welt of Swigni- 
skarth went to his sheep that morning, and 
he saw them a-faring on and driving all 
kind of cattle ; so he told Thorkel thereof, who 
answers : " I wot how it will be ; these will be the 
men of Thwartlithe, my friends, who have been 
sore pinched by the winter, and will be driving 
their beasts hither : they shall be welcome, for I 
have hay enough, and here are enough winter 
pastures open for grazing beasts." So he went out 
when they came into the home-mead, and gave 
them good welcome, and bade them to all good 
things that they would have ; yea, scarce might 
they get off their horses, he was so eager-kind with 
them. But Thorbiorn said : " Thy good welcome 
is a great matter, and much lies on thy holding to 
all thou hast promised us." 

Said Thorkel : " I wot of thine errand, that ye 
would leave the beasts behind here, where forsooth 
there lacketh not open pastures and good." Thor- 
biorn said : " That will we take." 

Then he taketh Thorkel aside by the houses, 
and said : " Great tidings and evil are abroad." 

Thorkel asked what they were. 

" Master Blundketil was burned in his house 
last night," said Thorbiorn. 

"Who wrought that deed of shame ? " said Thorkel . 

So Thorbiorn told the whole story of it, saying 
moreover : " Herstein here hath need of thine 
wholesome redes." 

146 The Saga Library. 

Thorkel says : " It is not so sure that I should 
have been so busy with my offers had I known hereof 
before ; but my redes shall even go down the road 
they set out on ; and first come ye in to meat." 

They said yea thereto. Thorkel Welt was of 
few words, and somewhat thoughtful ; but when 
they had eaten, he bade them to horse ; and they 
take their weapons, and get a-horseback, but 
Thorkel rode first that day, and gave command 
that the beasts in the pasture should be well heeded, 
and those at stall fed plenteously. So ride they 
now to Woodstrand, to Gunnarstead, which lieth 
on the inner side of the Strand. There dwelt a 
man named Gunnar, the son of Hlifar, a big man 
and a strong, and the greatest of champions ; he 
was wedded to a sister of Thord Gellir called 
Helga, and had two daughters, Jofrid and Thurid. 

Thither they come late in the day, and get off 
their horses up above the house ; the wind was in 
the north, and it was somewhat cold. So Thorkel 
goes to the door and knocks, and a house-carle 
comes thereto, and greets the new-comer well, 
asking who he might be. Thorkel says he would 
be none the wiser though he tell him, and bids 
him bid Gunnar come out. H e said that Gunnar was 
gotten to bed; but Thorkel bids him say that a man 
would see him. The house-carle does so, goes in, 
and tells Gunnar that here is a man will see him. 
Gunnar asks who it might be ; the house-carle said 
he wotted not, but that he was great of growth. 

Gunnar said : " Go and tell him to abide here 

The house-carle went and did as Gunnar bade ; 

Hen Thorir. 147 

but Thorkel said he would not take that bidding 
from a thrall, but from the master himself. The 
house-carle said that, be that as true as it might 
be, Gunnar was not wont to arise benights. " Do 
one of two things," said he ; " either go away, or 
come in and abide here to-night." 

" Do thou one of two things," said Thorkel, 
" either go bear my errand doughtily to Gunnar, 
or have my sword-hilt on the nose of thee." The 
house-carle ran in, and shut to the door, and 
Gunnar asked why he went on so wildly ; but he 
said that he would talk no more with the new- 
comer, for that he was exceeding rough of speech. 
Then Gunnar arose, and went out into the home- 
mead ; and he was clad in shirt and linen breeches, 
with a cloak cast over him, black shoes on his feet, 
and his sword in his hand ; he greeted Thorkel 
well, and bade him come in, but he said there were 
more of them in company. So Gunnar goeth out 
into the home-mead ; but Thorkel catcheth hold of 
the door-ring, and shutteth to the door, and then 
they go round to the back of the house. There 
Gunnar welcomes them, but Thorkel said : " Sit 
we down, because we have many things to say to 
thee, Gunnar." 

They did so, sitting on either hand of him, and 
so close that they sat on the very skirts of the 
cloak that Gunnar had over him. Then spake 
Thorkel : " So it falleth out, master Gunnar, that 
here is a man in my company called Herstein, son 
of Blundketil, nor need we hide our errand from 
thee, that he comes a-wooing Thurid thy daughter 
of thee ; and for this cause have I come hither with 

148 The Saga Library. 

him, that I would not thou turn the man away, for 
meseemeth it is a most meet match ; withal we 
shall deem it no little matter if he be deemed un- 
worthy, he and my furtherance, yea, or if he be 
answered coldly." 

Gunnar said : " I may not answer to this matter 
alone ; I will take counsel with her mother, and 
with my daughter herself, and especially with 
Thord Gellir, her kinsman ; yet have we heard 
nought but good of the man, or his father either, 
and it is a matter to be looked to." 

Then answered Welt : " Thou must know that 
we will not be dangling about the woman, and we 
think the match no less for thine honour than for 
ours ; wondrous I deem it that a wise man like 
thee should ponder matters in such a good match 
as is this ; moreover, we will not have come from 
home for nothing ; wherefore, Herstein, I will give 
thee whatso help thou wilt to bring this about if 
he know not his own honour." 

Gunnar answered : " I cannot make out why 
ye are so hasty in this, or why ye go nigh even 
to threaten me ; for the match is an even one ; 
but I may look for any mischief from you ; so I 
must even take the rede of stretching forth my 

So did he, and Herstein named witnesses for 
himself, and betrothed himself to the woman. 
Then they stand up, and go in, and are well served. 

Now Gunnar asks for tidings ; and Thorkel 
sayS that there is none newer than the burning of 

Gunnar asked who brought it to pass, and 

Hen Thorir. 149 

Thorkel says that Thorwald Oddson and Arngrim 
the priest were the leaders therein. Gunnar an- 
swered in few words ; blamed but little, and praised 
nought at all. 


NEXT morning forthwith is Gunnar afoot, 
and coming to Thorkel bids him clothe 
himself : so do they, and go to their meat, 
and then are the horses got ready, and they leap 
a-horseback ; and Gunnar rides ahead in along 
the firth, and it is much under ice. So they stay 
not till they come to Thord Gellir's at Hwamm, 
who greeted them well, and asked for tidings ; but 
they told him what seemed good to them. Then 
Gunnar calls Thord apart to talk with him, and 
says that here in his company are Herstein, Bliind- 
ketil's son, and Thorkel Welt : "And their errand 
is that Herstein speaketh of tying himself to me 
by wedding Thurid my daughter ; what thinkest 
thou of the match ? the man is goodly and doughty, 
and lacketh not wealth, for his father hath said 
that he would give up the house, and that Herstein 
is to take the same ? " 

Thord answereth : " I like Blundketil well ; for 
on a time I strove with Odd-a-Tongue at the Al- 
thing for weregild for a thrall which had been 
awarded me against him. I went to fetch it in 
exceeding foul weather with two men in my com- 
pany ; and so we came benight to Blundketil, and 
had very fair welcome, and we abode there a week ; 

150 The Saga Library. 

and he shifted horses with us, giving me certain 
good stallions ; such treatment I had from him ; and 
yet meseemeth it were no ill rede not to strike the 

" Well," said Gunnar, " thou must know that 
she will not be betrothed to any other wooer ; for 
the man is both doughty and a good man in my 
eyes ; and there is danger in what may befall if 
he be turned away." 

Then Gunnar goes and finds his daughter, for 
she was a-fostering with Thord there, and asked 
her what her mind was about the wooing ; she an- 
swereth that she was not so desirous of men but 
that she would deem it just as well to abide at 
home : " For I am well looked after with Thord 
my kinsman ; yet will I do thy pleasure and his, 
in this, as in other things." 

Now comes Gunnar to talk with Thord again, 
saying that the match looks very seemly to him. 

Says Thord : " Why shouldst thou not give thy 
daughter to him if thou wilt ? " Gunnar answers : 
" I will give her only if thy will be as mine 

So Thord says it shall be done by the rede of 
them both. 

" I will,Thord," said Gunnar, " that thou betroth the 
woman unto Herstein." Thord answers : " Nay, it 
is for thee thyself to betroth thine own daughter." 

Says Gunnar : " I should deem myself the more 
honoured if thou betroth her, for it were seemlier 

So Thord let it be so ; and the betrothal went 
on : then spake Gunnar : " I pray thee, moreover, 

Hen Thorir. 151 

to let the wedding be holden here at Hwamm, for 
then it will be done with all honour." 

Thord bade him have his way if he thought it 
better so. 

Gunnar says : " We should be minded to have 
it in a week's space." Then they get a-horseback, 
and go their ways, but Thord brought them on 
their road, and asked at last if there were anything 
new to tell. 

Gunnar answereth : " We have heard nought 
newer than the burning of master Blundketil." 

Thord asked how that had come about, and 
Gunnar told him all the tale of how the burning 
had betid, and who was he that stirred it, and who 
were they who did it. 

Said Thord : " I would not have counselled this 
match so hastily had I known this ; ye will deem 
that ye have got round me altogether in wit, and 
have overcome me with wiles. I see how it is, how- 
ever ; ye are not so sure that ye are enough for 
this case by yourselves." 

Gunnar said : " We deem ourselves safe in lean- 
ing on thy help, for thou art bound to help thy 
son-in-law even as we are bound to help thee ; for 
many heard thee betroth the woman, and all was 
done with thy goodwill. Well, good it were to 
try once for all which of you great men may hold 
out longest ; for ye have long been eating each 
the other with the wolfs mouth." 

152 The Saga Library. 


SO parted they, and Thord is as wroth as 
wroth may be, deeming himself bemocked 
of them; but they ride to Gunnarstead 
first, thinking how they have played their game 
well to have brought Thord into the case, and 
right joyous are they. They rode not south as 
yet, but bade men to the feast, and made for 
Hwamm at the time appointed. There had Thord 
a many guests, and marshalled men to their seats 
in the evening : he himself sat on one bench with 
Gunnar his brother-in-law and his men, but 
Thorkel Welt sat beside the bridegroom on the 
other bench with their guests ; the women filled 
the dais-bench. 

So when the boards were set, Herstein the bride- 
groom leapt up and over the board to where was 
a certain stone ; then he set one foot upon the 
stone, and spake : " This oath I swear hereby, 
that before the Althing is over this summer I shall 
have had Arngrim the priest made fully guilty, or 
gained self-doom else." Then back he strode to 
his seat. 

Then sprang forth Gunnar and spake : " This 
oath swear I, that before the Althing is over this 
summer I shall have Thorwald Oddson to out- 
lawry, or else self-doom to our side." 

Then he stepped back and sat himself down at 
the board, and saith to Thord : " Why sittest thou 
there, Thord, and vowest nought of thine own 
about it ? we wot thou hast e'en such things in thy 
heart as we have." 

Hen Thorir. 153 

Thord answers : " It shall lie quiet, though, for 
this time." 

Answers Gunnar : "If thou wilt that we speak 
for thee, then are we ready thereto, and we wot 
thou art minded to take Odd-a-Tongue." 

Thord said : "Ye may rule your own speech, but 
I will be master over my words ; bring that ye have 
spoken to a good end." 

N ought more to tell of befell at the feast, but it went 
on in noble fashion, and when it came to an end, each 
went about his own business, and winter wore away. 

But in springtide they gathered men, and fared 
south to Burgfirth, and, coming to North tongue, 
summoned Arngrim and Hen Thorir to the Thing 
of Thingness: but Herstein parted company from 
them with thirty men to go thither whereas he said 
he had heard tell of Thorwald Oddson's last night- 
harbour; for Thorwald was gone from his winter 
guest-quarters. So the countryside is astir, and there 
is much talk, and mustering of men on either side. 


N' OW it fell out that Hen Thorir vanished 
away from the countryside, with twelve 
men, when he knew who had come into 
the case, and nought was to be heard of him. 

Odd gathers force now from the Dales, either 
Reekdale and Skorradale, and all the country south 
of Whitewater, and had moreover many from other 
countries. Arngrim the priest gathered men from 
all Thwartwaterlithe, and some part of North water- 
dale. Thorkel Welt gathered men from the Nether 

154 The Saga Library. 

Mires, and from Staffholtstongue ; and some of the 
men of North waterdale also he had with him, be- 
cause Helgi his brother dwelt at Hwamm, and 
he followed him. 

Now gathers Thord Gellir men from the west, 
but had not many men : so all they who are in the 
case meet, and are two hundred men in all : they 
ride down to the west of North water, and over it 
at Eyiaford above Staff holt, with the mind to cross 
Whitewater by the ford of Thrallstream ; then they 
see a many men going south of the river, and there 
is Odd-a-Tongue with hard on four hundred men : 
so they speed on their way, being wishful to come 
first to the ford ; they meet by the river, and Odd's 
folk leap off their horses, and guard the ford, so that 
Thord's company may not pass forth, how fain so- 
ever they were to come to the Thing. Then they 
fell to fight, and men were presently hurt, and four 
of Thord's men fell, amongst whom was Thorolf 
Fox, brother of Alf-a-dales, and a man of account ; 
therewith they turn away, but one man fell of Odd's 
and three were sorely hurt. 

So now Thord laid the case to the Althing ; they 
ride home west, and men deem the honour of the 
west-country folk to be falling. But Odd rides to 
the Thing, and sends his thralls home with the 
horses ; of whom when they came home Jorun his 
wife asked for tidings ; they said they had no other 
to tell save that he was come from Broadfirth out 
of the west country who alone was able to answer 
Odd-a-Tongue, and whose voice and speech were 
as the roaring of a bull. 

She said it was no tidings though he were an- 

Hen Thorir. 155 

swered as other men, and that nought had befallen 
save what was likeliest to befall. " Ah, there was 
a battle though," said they, " and five men fell in all, 
and many were hurt." For they had told no whit 
of this before. 

The Thing wears with nought to tell of; but 
when those kinsmen-in-law came home they 
changed dwellings ; Gunnar goes into Ornolfsdale, 
and Herstein takes Gunnarstead. Then let Gunnar 
flit to him from the west all that timber which East- 
man Erne had owned, and so gat him home to 
Ornolfsdale ; then he falls to and builds up again 
the houses at the stead there ; for he was the 
handiest of men, and in all things well skilled, the 
best of men at arms, and the briskest in all wise. 


SO weareth the time on till men ride to the 
Thing, and there is much arraying of men 
in the countryside, and either company 
rides wondrous many. 

But when Thord Gellir and his men come to 
Gunnarstead, then is Herstein sick, and may not 
fare to the Thing ; so he hands his cases over to 
others : thirty men abode behind with him ; but 
Thord rides to the Thing. He gathereth to him 
kinsfolk and friends, and cometh to the Thing be- 
times, which in those days was held under Armans- 
fell, and as the companies come in Thord has a 
great gathering. 

Now is Odd-a-Tongue seen coming. Thord 
rideth to meet him, and would not that he should 

156 The Saga Library. 

get him the peace of the hallowed Thing. Odd is 
riding with three hundred men. So Thord and his 
folk guard the Thingstead, and men fall to fight 
straightway, and very many are hurt. 

There fell six of Odd's men, for Thord had many 
more than he. Now worthy men see that great 
troubles will come of it if the whole Thing gets to 
fighting, and late will it be amended ; so they go 
betwixt them and part them, and turn the case to 
a peaceful awarding ; for Odd was overborne by 
numbers and had to give way ; yea, both because 
he was deemed to have the heavier case to back, 
and because he had the weaker force. 

So it was proclaimed that Odd was to pitch his 
tents away from the peace of the Thing, and to go 
to the courts, and about his errands, and to fare 
with meek demeanour, showing no stifif-neckedness, 
neither he nor his men. 

Then men sit over the cases, and seek how they 
may appease them, and it went heavily with Odd, 
mostly, indeed, because there was over-mastery 
against him. 


BU T now shall we tell somewhat of Herstein ; 
for his sickness presently left him after 
men were gone to the Thing, and he fared 
to Ornolfsdale : there early one morning he was in 
the stithy, for he was the handiest of men with iron ; 
so there came to him thither a goodman called 
Ornolf, and said : " My cow is sick, and I pray 
thee, Herstein, to come and see her ; we are re- 

Hen Thorir. 157 

joiced that thou art come back, for thus we have 
some of thy father's heart left us, who was of the 
greatest avail to us." 

Herstein answered : " I take no keep of thy cow, 
nor may I know what aileth her." 

Said the goodman : " Ah, well ! great is the diffe- 
rence betwixt thee and thy father, for he gave me 
the cow, and thou wilt not so much as come and 
look at her." 

Herstein said : " I will give thee another cow if 
this one dies." 

The goodman said : " Yea, but first of all I 
would have thee come and see this." Then 
Herstein sprang up, and was wroth, and went with 
the goodman, and they turned into a way that led 
into the wood ; for a byway went there with the 
wood on either hand : but as Herstein went on the 
cliff-road he stood still, and he was the keenest- 
eyed of men. He said : " A shield peeped out in 
the wood yonder." 

The goodman held his peace, and Herstein said : 
" Hast thou betrayed me, hound ? now if thou art 
bound to silence by any oaths, lie down in the path 
here, and speak no word ; but if thou do not so, I 
will slay thee." 

So the goodman lay down, but Herstein turned 
back and called on his men, who take their weapons 
and go to the wood, and find Ornolf yet in the 
path, and bid him go take them to the place where 
the meeting was appointed. So they go till they 
come to a clearing, and then Herstein said to 
Ornolf: " I will not compel thee to speak, but do 
thou now even as thou hast been ordered to do." 

158 The Saga Library. 

So Ornolf ran up a certain knoll and whistled 
shrilly, and forth sprang twelve men, and who but 
Hen Thorir was the leader of that band. 

So Herstein and his company take them and 
slay them, and Herstein himself smites the head 
from Thorir, and has it along with him. Then 
they ride south to the Thing and tell these tidings, 
and Herstein is much honoured for the deed, and 
his good renown furthered, as was like to be. 

Now is peace made in these cases, and the end 
of it was that Arngrim the priest was fully out- 
lawed, and all those that were at the burning ex- 
cept Thorwald Oddson, who was to be away for 
three winters, and then be free to come back ; 
money was given for the faring over the sea of 
other men. Thorwald went abroad that summer, 
and was taken captive in Scotland and enthralled 

After this the Thing was ended, and men deem 
that Thord has carried out the case well and 
mightily. Arngrim the priest also went abroad 
that summer, but as to what money was paid is 
nothing certain. Such was the end of this case. 

So then folk ride home from the Thing, and 
those of the outlawed fare who were appointed to. 


GUNNAR HLIFARSON sitteth now at 
Ornolfsdale, and has housed himself well 
there ; he had much of mountain pastures, 
and ever had but few men at home ; Jofrid, Gun- 

Hen Thorir. 159 

nar's daughter, had a tent without doors, for she 
deemed it less dreary so. 

It befell on a day that Thorod, son of Odd-a- 
Tongue, rode to Thwartwaterlithe ; he came to 
Ornolfsdale by the beaten way, and went into Jo- 
frid's tent, and she greeted him well ; he sat down 
beside her, and they fell to talk together; but 
therewith in comes a lad from the mountain-pasture, 
and bids Jofrid help take off the loads. Thorod 
goes and takes off the loads, and then the lad goes 
his way, and comes to the mountain-stead ; there 
Gunnar asked him why he was so speedily back, 
but he answered nought. Gunnar said : " Sawest 
thou ought to tell of ? " 

" Nought at all," said the lad. " Nay," said 
Gunnar, " there is something in the look of thee 
as if a thing had passed before thine eyes which 
thou deemest worth talking of; so tell me what it 
is, or if any man has come to the house ? " 

" I saw no one new-come," said the lad. 

" Nay, but thou shalt tell me," said Gunnar ; 
and took up a stout switch to beat the boy withal, 
but got no more out of him than before ; so then 
he mounts and rides swiftly down along the Lithe 
by the winter-fold. Jofrid caught sight of her father 
as he went, and told Thorod, and bade him ride 
away : " For I were loth for any ill to come to 
thee by me." Thorod said he would ride presently ; 
but Gunnar came on apace, and leaping from his 
horse went into the tent. 

Thorod greeted him well, and Gunnar took his 
greeting, and then asked him why he was come 
thither. Thorod told him why he was come : " But 

1 60 The Saga Library. 

this I do, not out of enmity to thee, but rather I 
would wot how thou wouldst answer me, were I 
to woo Jofrid thy daughter of thee." 

Gunnar answered : " I will not give her to thee 
amidst these goings-on ; for matters have long 
stood on a ticklish point betwixt us." 

So therewithal rides Thorod home. 


ON a day Odd says that it were not ill to 
have a little avail of the lands of Ornolfs- 
dale : " whereas other men have wrong- 
fully sat upon my possessions." 

The women said that it were good so to do, for 
that the beasts were very scant of milk, and that 
they would milk much the better for such change. 
" Well, thither shall they," said Odd, " for there is 
much good pasture there." 

Then said Thorod : " I would go with the cattle, 
for then will they deem it a harder matter to set 
on us." 

Odd said he was right fain thereof; so they go 
with the cattle, and when they are come a long 
way, Thorod bids them drive the beasts where the 
pasture is worst and stoniest. So wears the night 
away, and they drive the beasts home in the morn- 
ing, and when the women have milked them, they 
say they have never been so dry before ; wherefore 
the thing is not tried again. 

Weareth a while away now, till on a morning 
early Odd falleth to talk with Thorod his son : 
" Go thou down along the countryside, and gather 

Hen Thorir. 161 

folk; for now will I drive those men from our 
possessions ; but Torfi shall fare north over the 
Neck, and make this muster known, and we will 
meet at Stoneford." 

So do they, and gather folk. Thorod and his folk 
muster, ninety men in all, and so ride for the ford ; 
thereto come first Thorod and his company, and he 
biddeth them ride on : "I will await my father." 

Now as they come to the garth at Ornolfsdale, 
Gunnar was making up a wain-load ; then saith a 
lad who was with Gunnar : "Men are faring to the 
stead, no little company." " Yea," said Gunnar, 
" so it is ; " and he went home to his house, and 
took his bow, for he was the best shooter among 
men, and came nighest therein to matching 
Gunnar of Lithend. He had built a fair house at 
the stead, and there was a window in the outer 
door wherethrough a man might thrust out his 
head ; by this door he stood, bow in hand. Now 
comes Thorod to the house, and, going up to the 
house with but few men, asks if Gunnar will offer 
any atonement. 

He answers : " I wot not of aught to be atoned 
for, and I look for it that before ye have your will 
of me, my handmaidens here will have set the 
Sleepthorn into some of yon fellows, or ever I bow 
adown in the grass." 

Said Thorod : " True it is that thou art wellnigh 
peerless among the men that now are, yet may 
such a company come against thee as thou mayest 
not withstand, for my father is riding to the garth 
now with a great company, and is minded to slay 


1 62 The Saga Library. 

Gunnar answered : " It is well, but I would have 
wished to have had a man before me ere I fall to 
field. But I wonder at it nowise, though thy father 
keep but little to the peace." 

Said Thorod: "Nay, 'tis all the other way; we 
wish indeed that thou and I should make a good 
and true peace, and that thou stretch forth thine 
hand, and give me Jofrid thy daughter." 

Gunnar answers : "Thou cowest me not to give 
thee my daughter ; yet would the match be not far 
from equal as to thee, for thou art a brave man and 
a true." 

Thorod saith : " It will not be so accounted of 
amongst men of worth ; and I must needs give 
thee many thanks for thy taking this choice on such 
condition as befitteth." 

So what with the talking over of his friends, 
what with thinking that Thorod had ever fared 
well of his ways, Gunnar stretched forth his hand, 
and so the matter ended. 

But even therewith came Odd into the home- 
mead, and Thorod straightway turned to meet his 
father, and asked him of his intent. Odd said he 
was minded to burn up the house and the men 
therein ; but Thorod answered : " Another road 
have matters gone, for Gunnar and I have made 
peace together." And he told how the thing had 
betid. " Hearken to the fool ! " saith Odd ; " would 
it be any the worse for thee to have the woman if 
Gunnar our greatest foe were first slain ? And an 
ill deed have I done in ever having furthered 

Thorod answered and said : " Thou shalt have 

Hen Thorir. 163 

to do with me first, if it may no otherwise be 

Then men go between them, and the father and 
son are appeased, and the end of the matter was 
that Thorod was wedded to Jofrid, and Odd was 
very ill content. 

So folk go home with matters thus done, and 
later on men sit at the wedding, and Thorod deems 
his lot happy. But at the end of the winter Thorod 
fared abroad because he had heard that Thorwald 
his brother was in bondage, and he would ransom 
him with money ; he came to Norway, but never 
back to Iceland again, neither he nor his brother. 

Now waxed Odd very old, and when he knew 
that neither of his sons would come back to him, a 
great sickness took him, and when it grew heavy 
on him, he spake to his friends, bidding them bear 
him up to Skaney-fell when he was dead, and say- 
ing that thence would he look down on all the 
Tongue ; and even so was it done. 

As for Jofrid, Gunnar's daughter, she was 
wedded afterwards to Thorstein Egilson of Burg, 
and was the greatest-hearted of women. Thus 
endeth the story of Hen Thorir. 




ONE summer there came west away from 
Iceland Odd the son of Ufeig the son 
of Skidi ; they had foul wind, and bore 
north to Finmark, and were there the winter 
through. And Harold Sigurdson was then king 
over Norway. They set sail from the north whenas 
spring came on. Then spake Odd to his ship- 
mates : " This journey is with some risk," saith he, 
" for no man may have any chaffer with the Fins 
north here save by the leave of the king or his 
bailiff. Moreover, that man has now the bailiwick 
and oversight over the Mark who is not deemed 
yielding in his ways, Einar Fly to wit ; so I would 
now fain wot how much ye have done of chaffer with 
the Fins." They gave out that they had had no 
chaffer with them. But when they came from the 
north down upon the island of Thiotta, a longship 
rowed out from the island, and headed for them, and 
thereon was Einar Fly. 

And when the chapmen saw that, then called 
out Odd to them: " Be ye ready now, and beware 
lest the Finscat be found with you ; and if, as I 
misdoubt me, it is not so sure that ye have not 

1 68 The Saga Library. 

had dealings with the Fins, then let us put all 
those goods together in one place against the ship 
be ransacked." 

Now it turned out even as Odd had guessed, 
and each one brought forth what he had bought, 
and they hid it away in such wise as Odd thought 
likeliest, and they had done the work before Einar 
overhauled them. So the longship laid the chap- 
man aboard, and the wind was light ; but now it 
began to wax somewhat. Odd greeted Einar, for 
they knew each other. Said Einar : " Known art 
thou, Odd, for things that well beseem a man ; but 
ye have been this winter among the Fins, so may- 
hap your men have not been as heedful as thou 
against chaffering with the Fins ; and whereas in 
this matter we have the king's business on hand, 
we will ransack your ship." Odd answered and 
said that he was welcome to look over the lading ; 
and men unlocked their chests. Then Einar and 
his men came aboard, and fell to searching the ship 
over, and found nought of the Finscat. Then spoke 
Einar : " In sooth these men have been more 
heedful of their chaffering than I should have 
thought ; meseems we may not get to breaking the 
bulk much now, for the wind is waxing ; we had best 
begone aboard our own ship." 

Then said a man a-sittingon the bulk : "This bag 
yet I have here ; thou hadst better have a look at 
what it holds within it." So he began to loosen the 
bag while Einar waited. It was tied round with a 
long rope, and the undoing thereof was slow work. 
Einar bade him undo in haste, and he said that so 
it should be; so out he took therefrom another 

Appendix. 169 

bag still more roped about, and it took him long 
or ever he might undo this one. 

Then said Einar : " This is a slow business of 
thine ; " yet he waited still a while to see if aught 
might be found in his bag for which he might make 
a charge against him. Then out came a third bag, 
and when at last he got that opened there was 
nought therewithin but rags and things of no worth. 

Spake Einar : " Wretchedest of all men ! " said 
he, " mocking us thus and making us tarry, till now 
the island is wellnigh hull down." 

So Einar and his men went aboard their ship 
and put off, for the wind rose apace, and they 
might not abide by the chapman ; and such was 
their parting, that Einar had a stiff beating up 
against the wind or ever they reached Thiotta. 

Then spake Odd : " Now we have got away 
from the masterfulness of Einar Fly, and I should 
deem that now a good deal lay on our not coming 
across King Harold." 

Einar sent forthwith a word to King Harold doing 
him to wit what had betid. And when Odd and 
those with him came south to Miola, they put 
into harbour, the wind failing them for holding on 
southward ; but there in the lee of that island lay 
King Harold with many ships. Now when they 
saw the chapman-keel, the king spake to his men : 
" Maybe we are in for a good hap, for here will 
be the ship of Odd Ufeigson, with whom I have 
an errand, nor wot I that Einar Fly has ever so 
thoroughly got the worst of it at any man's hands 
as he did in dealing with Odd and his fellows." 

So forthwith the king rowed with many men to 

1 70 The Saga Library. 

the ship of the chapmen, and boarded her. Odd 
welcomed the king, but he answered somewhat 
angrily : " Thou behavest unworthily to me, Odd, 
in that I have ever held thee honourably, but thou 
has gone and chaffered with the Fins in my de- 

Answered Odd : " Fain would we have taken the 
land further to the south than Finmark last autumn, 
lord, if the wind had suffered us ; but that was 
within my power not to buy aught of them against 
thy bidding." 

Said the king : " I misdoubt me ye have done so 
much amiss as to deserve being tied up and hanged 
on the horse of tree all of you ; and even if thou 
shouldst not thyself have brought it about, meseems 
I can see it in thy men clearly enough that they will 
not have spared themselves in forbidden chaffer ; 
so we shall ransack you." 

" That shall be, lord, even as thou wilt," said 
Odd. And now it was so done, and they found 
nought at all. 

There was one hight Thorstein, a young man 
and hopeful, a kinsman of Thorir Hound, and a 
friend of Odd's, and even now tending on the king ; 
he tarried behind on board Odd's ship when the 
king went away, and called Odd aside for a privy 
talk, and asked if they were aught guilty in this 
matter, saying that the king was very wroth and 
would make a thorough search. 

" Forsooth, friend," said Odd, " we are not 
utterly clean of the business ; they began first of 
their own wilfulness to buy of the Fins, and after- 
wards I gave rede as to how the wares might be 

Appendix. 1 7 1 

hidden." " Where are those goods bestowed now ? " 
says Thorstein. Odd said they were all within 
one leathern hammock. 

Said Thorstein : " The king will come here again, 
and have a search made ; but the hammock within 
which the Fin goods are, thou shalt take and lay 
under the king, and rear thereupon his high seat ; 
and I guess he will not be ware that the goods are 
under himself, yet is there some risk in all that." 

Then Thorstein went away, but Odd did even 
according as he had counselled. And now the king 
came and set himself in the seat fitted up for him ; 
but his men both searched chests and broke open 
whatever else was deemed likeliest to hold aught ; 
yet was nought found which they were in search of. 

The king said : " I cannot understand how this 
comes about, for meseems I know sure enough that 
the goods which we seek must be in the ship." Odd 
answereth : " It is an old saw, lord, that saith, ' Oft 
shall the guesser go astray.' ' 

Went the king away with his men, but Thor- 
stein tarried behind a little while and spake to Odd : 
"This shift will avail no longer, for late will the 
king put the search out of his mind, and next time he 
comes he will find out this sleight ; so let the goods 
now go into the sail and brail it up to the yard, 
for now must everything be broken up, bulk and 
what else." 

So Odd and those with him did even as Thor- 
stein said, and he went away ; and when he came 
to the king, he asked what he was tarrying behind 
for. Answered Thorstein : " Need, lord, for I had to 
put my hose right." But the king was short thereat. 

172 The Saga Library. 

A little after the king came aboard Odd's ship 
and said : " Mayhap thou didst dight that seat of 
mine with the Finscat,so there nowshall a search be 
made first, and afterwards throughout the ship, and 
the more trouble it cost us, the harder shall ye fall." 

So they searched wherever they could think of, 
and nought could be found. 

The king went a-land,butThorstein made shift to 
tarry behind him and spake to Odd : " Now nought 
will avail you but to carry the Finscat out of the 
ship round yonder ness and hide the goods a-land 
there ; for here will the king come to-morrow, and 
will then deem he has found out this hiding-place, 
but I shall now go ashore some other way than the 
king has gone, so that he may the less misdoubt 
that I have tarried behind here. But at evening 
when day is done, haul up anchor and take to thy 
sea-craft, Odd. For otherwise the king will lay 
such close watch about you, that ye shall not 
escape ; for he is a cunning man and a headstrong 
in what he has once set his heart on." Odd said 
that Thorstein would be under- rewarded indeed for 
all the help he had spent on them ; but Thorstein 
went away, and Odd and his folk did according to 
his word and worked the night through. 

But in the morning the king came once more and 
had the sail searched as well as the ship elsewhere ; 
and the king yet hugged his doubt as to where they 
might have hidden away the goods ; but as they 
still failed to find them, Odd spake : " Now, lord," 
said he, " surely thou mayst not doubt us further, 
for every rag has been unfolded on board of our 

Appendix. 1 73 

Answered the king : " Nay, that will not be 
proven, and no men ever played the fool with me 
in such wise before; whensoever it may be paid 
for." They might not hang a word on the king, so 
wroth he was. 

So day wore, and whenas night fell, they brought 
the goods a-shipboard and dight them for sea. 
And at night- wane a wind arose, and they hove 
off the land. 

The king awoke betimes and spoke to his men : 
" Now methinks I know and see through the whole 
shift of Odd and his folk, and belike more people 
have had a share therein besides those alone ; yet 
now I hope we shall find in their ship what we 
have been searching for ; but a death-guilt I might 
not lay on them while as yet I only had my doubts 
of them ; so let us now go search them." But when 
they came without the tilt and looked about they 
saw the sail of Odd far out against the islands. 

Then said the king : " There now will be the 
parting of me and Odd at this time ! But thou, 
Thorstein, knowest well how to back up thy friends, 
for of more worth thou now holdest Odd than my- 
self, and belike thou takest after thy kin in the 
matter of treason." 

Answered Thorstein : " This is no betrayal of 
thee, lord, though thou slay not Odd, who hath long 
been a good friend of thine, lord ; and though thou 
slay not many other good men also, on a doubtful 
guilt. And meseemeth it is true service to thee 
to hinder thee from such ill-hap." 

So Odd and his crew sailed into the main with 
wind at will. 

1 74 The Saga Library. 

Then spake Odd to his crew : " Now I shall tell 
you how things have fared, and the cause where- 
fore I have done throughout as I have done. I 
bade you buy no more from the Fins than what 
was lawful, but to this ye were not able to pay due 
heed. And things being so, and we happening 
on Einar Fly, I said that ye should make him 
seemly offers, yet draw out your talk with him and 
hit upon many things to delay him, because I knew 
ye were guilt-bitten. Hence I bade you sail while 
he tarried, so that thus our parting might the 
sooner come about. Now when the king was first 
told that the ship was seen, he asked if that might 
perchance be our ship. And our friend Thorstein 
answered and said that those were men a-fishing. 
' Good catch,' said the king, ' he knows, who guile 
knows, 1 and that catch shall come to me.' Yet 
now we have saved our catch and got off, and 
for that same we have mostly to thank Thorstein." 

Now Odd came out to Iceland, and fared to his 
household at Mel. 

At that time there was wayfaring a man called 
Harek, a kinsman of Thorstein's. He brought 
his ship into Midfirth, and in those days was great 
dearth here in Iceland. But Odd bade him stay with 
him, and all his crew as many as he would send. 
Odd sent out with him a gift to Thorstein, certain 
good stallions red of hue and white-maned, and 
said that he had been his life-giver. Harek fared 
out in summer, and happened on Thorstein, who 

1 The reading of Flatey-book, svik, for Jnk of Morkinskinna, 
is better. The proverb is addressed of course to Thorstein. 

Appendix. 175 

was still with King Harold, and brought him the 
horses, and said that Odd had sent them to him. 

Said Thorstein : " This is the worst of ill-haps 
to me, for but for this, that matter of Odd's might 
have been covered up, as well as the aid I gave 
them ; but now it may nowise be kept hidden, 
and here is trouble to hand." So Thorstein 
showed the horses to the king, saying that Odd 
had sent him them for a gift. 

The king answered : " Of no gifts from Odd 
was I worthy ; and indeed to thee he has sent the 
horses, not to me ; and have them thou shalt." 
And he bade slay Thorstein for the guile where- 
with he had dealt with the king. But all were loth 
thereto, for Thorstein was the best befriended of 
men. But Thorstein gat him away from the court, 
and was never after in the king's friendship. 




Page xiv. 

BUT bade Thorarin take heed lest the hair that 
lay on his tongue should twine around his head." 
This prophetically obscure passage is, no doubt, 
to be explained on the following grounds. There is an 
adj. " lo=Smaeltr," from " loftinn," hairy, and " maela," to 
speak, thick of speech, talking thick, talking through 
the roof of the palate. There is also the saying, " ein- 
hverjum vefst tunga um hofu'S," the tongue twines itself 
round one's head, i.e. t brings him into such a trouble as 
may cost him his head. Thus, when the rough and ready 
missionary Thangbrand was on his way to the Althing, 
Thorvald the Wily gathered a band against him, and 
with a rhyme, in which he lampooned Thangbrand, called 
on the poet Wolf Uggison to join him ; but the poet re- 
fused and sent him this message : " Gaeti hann, at honum 
vefizt eigi tungan um hofut," let him take heed lest his 
tongue cost him his head" (Njala, ch. 102). The 
warning was not heeded, and Thangbrand and his com- 
panion Gudleif slew Thorvald. Accordingly, the mean- 
ing of Guest's words above should be : Let Thorarin 
beware lest his thick-speaking, wagging tongue may 
cost him his head. 

Page xxxii. " Thorvald . . . took part in the burning 
of Thorkel, the son of Blundketil." On this and other 
disagreements between Islendingab6k and Hen Thorir's 
saga, as, in fact, on the relation of Hen Thorir's saga in 
general to other historical records of Iceland, Dr. K. 
Maurer has written a searching and exhaustive criticism 
in Abhandlungen der bayerischen Akademie der Wissen- 
schaften, Philos.-philol. Classe, Bd. XIL, 2, 1870, pp. 159- 

180 The Saga Library. 

Page 2,1.15. Moonberg, Mdnaberg, the dwelling of the 
alleged Liot Thiodrekson, would seem to have been 
situated somewhere in Icefirth, further out or down the 
firth than Laugab61 (Bathstead, p. 38). Only two such 
local names can be pointed to, one on the island of Vigr, 
which lies some miles westward, or down the firth, from 
Laugab61, the other on the so-called Snowfell-strand just 
opposite to the island of Eiderisle, and that too is lying 
further west, or down the firth, than Laugab61. In the 
isle of Vigr this homestead of the saga cannot be sought, 
because the saga gives us clearly to understand that it was 
on the mainland itself. But there would be nothing in 
the way of fixing its locality opposite to Eiderisle, on 
the northern side of Icefirth. Now in his JarSab6k, estate 
valuation register, made in the course of 1702-1714, Arni 
Magnusson states that Mdnaberg is the name of the 
place where now the out-dairy from Eiderisle is situate. 
Dr. Kalund has not been able to trace any recollection 
of the name among the present inhabitants of Snowfell- 
strand. But in 1805, according Johnsen's JarSatal, p. 202, 
the name was still known in this neighbourhood. If this 
name can be supposed to represent the old homestead, 
then Mdnaberg would have stood between Myri (DyrSil- 
myrr) and Una'Ssdalr (see preface and map), and Howard 
dwelling west of the former house would have been in a 
manner sheltered against attacks from Moonberg Liot. 
There is nothing seriously in the way of supposing that 
a homestead called Moonberg might have stood here in 
the days of Howard the Halt. 

Page 2, 1. 21. " He " (Thorkel of Eiderisle) " was the 
Lawman of those of Icefirth." Only here and in the 
saga of the Svarfadardale men is mention made of this 
functionary during the period of the commonweal. In both 
cases the logma'Sr is invested with judicial authority. But 
in the earlier laws the term only means a lawyer, an expert 
at law. First after the union with Norway, A.D. 1262- 
64, the logma^r comes in as a magistrate appointed by 
the king. It seems, perhaps, strange that in independent 

Notes. 181 

Iceland there should have been no local magistrates to 
settle contested points of law and right, as there were 
both in Norway and Sweden. But the matter is to 
a great extent explained by the fact that any man, who 
was, or felt himself to be, either wronged or feebly de- 
fended by the Gofti whose liegeman, jtingma'Sr, he was, 
could transfer his allegiance to any other GoSi he pleased. 
The saga leaves it unexplained why Howard did not do 
so, he being Thorbiorn's " thingman " (ch. vii. p. 24), until 
he had wrought his deed of revenge, when he threw him- 
self under the protection of Eyolf the Gray. But the 
locality itself, where travelling is almost impossible but 
by sea, together with Thorbiorn's great power, were 
obvious obstacles in the way of such an arrangement. 
As for the term lawman logma'Sr being used here, it 
probably means only that the author of the saga, forget- 
ful or ignorant of the past, foisted an institution of the 
thirteenth century upon the constitution of the eleventh. 
It must here be noted that all the law we have been 
dealing with is customary, as opposed to political law ; it 
has no definite executive at its back; the aggrieved 
person and his kindred or chieftain are left to carry out 
its decisions if they can. Again, the "judges" are not, 
like the judges of political society, representatives of the 
executive power of the State, but are, in fact, our jury- 
men. We may say, in short, that the chief difference 
between the Customary and Political law is, that in the 
former, judgment withdraws protection from the con- 
demned ; in the latter, execution follows judgment in- 

Page 3, 1. 25. Bear's-warmth, bjarn-ylr, refers to the 
exceeding warmth which people supposed was given to 
the blood of a bear. In old records we are not aware 
that any description of this quality of bears exists. But 
in the east of Iceland the legend is current still, that so 
great is the warmth of this animal that, walking over 
the snow in whatever frosty weather, it leaves a pool of 
water in every step. This is supposed to be the bear's- 

1 82 The Saga Library. 

warmth proper, and it can be transmitted to human 
beings who are born on a bear's fell. (Islenzkar 
J?j6sogur, vol. i. p. 608.) 

Page 4, 1. 4. Sheep-walks, afr^ttir, mountain pastures 
owned in common mostly by so and so many communes, 
more rarely by private people. Unto these the dry sheep 
were driven in spring from the home-pastures, and 
through these commons they roamed unlocked after till 
the end of September, when the communes sent out their 
sheep-gatherers to clear the walks. The sheep were 
driven down to one common fold, where they were sorted 
by the marks cut on their ears, and afterwards driven in 
separate droves to their respective owners. Meantime, 
there are no upland sheep-walks to clear in the locality 
to which the saga refers. 

Page 4, 1. 6. Winter-nights, vetrnaetr. The summer 
began on a Thursday, and consequently closed on a 
Wednesday. But the winter began on the Saturday 
following. The intervening Thursday and Friday were 
the winter-nights proper. The first day of summer was 
the Thursday that fell on April 9-15, and the last was 
the Wednesday that fell on October 7-13. The winter- 
nights fell respectively on October 8-9 to October 14-15 ; 
Saturday, the first day of winter, fell on October 10-16, 
but in domestic computation the I4th of October was 
regarded as the first day of winter, as the I4th of April 
was that of summer. 

Page 1 3, 1. 1 1. " Thorbiorn rode to the Thing a-wooing, 
and craved the sister of Guest Oddleifson." This is a 
mistake, as the fragment of Howard's saga which we 
have given in the preface, xiii-xv, out of the Landna- 
mab6k shows. Thorbiorn had for wife Halldis, the sister 
of Liot, who dwelt at Ingialdsand. Both Liot and 
Guest went by the popular surname, " hinn spaki," which 
properly means " the tranquil," but is always applied to 
those who had the gift of prophecy, an imperturbable 
insight into the deep mysteries of fate. The part which 
the saga makes Guest " hinn spaki " play in Thorbiorn's 

Notes. 183 

affairs is evidently transferred to him from his less-known 
surname namesake, Liot " hinn spaki." 

Page 1 6, 1. 26. " Now Thordis, Thorbiorn's sister, went 
out that morning of the fight, and heard the noise thereof, 
but might not see aught." Here is one more instance of 
the author's ignorance of local details. First Olaf is made 
to go " lit meS firSinum," out or down along the firth, 
instead of "inn meft firSinum," up along the firth, since 
Howardstead was west of Loonsere, and consequently 
this place was " inn meS firSi," up along the firth in the 
direction from Howardstead. Secondly, Thorbiorn landed 
just below Loonsere, and there the fight befell, but 
Thordis' home, Knoll, was more than two miles distant, 
up along the western side of Kaldal6n (see map), so she 
could neither hear nor see aught of the fight. About the 
locality of Olaf's fight Dr. Kalund says : " From the 
homestead the homefield stretches over a brent that leans 
down towards the 'ere' (above which Loonsere stands) and 
covers the uppermost part of the ere. Immediately down 
below the brent, in the midst of the green level field, is 
to be seen a cairn, heaped up of foreshore stones of the 
size of a man's fist, which presents a striking contrast to 
its surroundings. It is called ' Olaf's ruin,' Olafs rust, 
and is accounted of as Olaf's tomb, ' leiSi.' " Beskr. af 
Island, i. 605. 

Page 27, 1. 17. In Biargey's ordering Thorhall to "row 
towards the cutter's beam," which evidently meant that 
he was to row round Thorbiorn's cutter, beginning the 
circle from the nearer beam, so as to cross her path, and 
in Thorbiorn's wrath for her doing this, there must lie 
hidden an allusion to a popular superstition. The prob- 
ability is that a person with a good fetch (fylgja, ham- 
ingja) crossing the sea-way of him whose fetch was an 
evil one, ill-luck, was believed thereby to have confounded 
the evil fetch, and hastened on to ruin the person whom 
it " followed." 

Pages 28-29. Of the brothers of Biargey, Valbrand, 
Thorbrand, and Asbrand, and of their respective home- 

184 The Saga Library. 

steads, nothing is otherwise known. This journey of 
Biargey's bears on the face of itself the evidence of being 
a legendary adornment. 

Page 42. All that is here attributed to Steinthor of 
Ere is, no doubt, as we have shown in the preface, p. xv, 
due to Eyolf the Gray of Otterdale, who, according to 
Landnama, was the chief that safeguarded Howard after 
his manslaughters. 

Pages 45-46. The Thorbiorn of Ere whose sons are 
called here Grim and Thorstein, is in the Landnamab6k 
called Grim Kogr (Bantling?), living at Brent, Brekka, 
and his sons are there called Sigurd and Thorkel. Here 
the confusion must all be on the side of Howard's saga. 

Page 51. "Now there was a man named Atli, who 
dwelt at Otterdale, and was wedded to a sister of Stein- 
thor of Ere, Thordis to wit." All that here is told of 
Atli the Little is no doubt pure romance. Among the 
children of Thorlak of Ere, the father of Steinthor, the 
very saga of the family, the Eyrbyggja saga, knows no 
daughter of the name of Thordis. But it knows Thordis, 
Sur's daughter, sister of Gi'sli Siirson, the great outlaw, 
whom Eyolf the Gray of Otterdale overcame at last, 
for which deed Thordis had nearly succeeded in kill- 
ing Eyolf. It would seem as if the confusion of the 
Howard saga had gone so far as to join these two in 
marriage after changing Eyolf the Gray into Atli the 

The local confusion here is no less complete : " As goes 
the tale, the house at Otterdale was far from the highway 
and stood on the other side of the firth over against Ere." 
The house of Otterdale stood, as it still stands, far up the 
firth called Arnar-firth, which is the third considerable 
bay, counting from the south-westernmost point of the 
north-western peninsula, Latrabiarg or Biargtangar, that 
cuts into the land. To get by sea to it from Ere, situate 
on the southern shore of Broadfirth, would mean a sail 
not far short of a hundred miles, and yet our saga tells 
us that Atli got up early the same morning that Stein- 

Notes. 185 

thor left Ere in the cutter taken from Thorbiorn, and then 
found the boat so near to the landing-place beneath Otter- 
dale, that he recognized Steinthor on board. In fact the 
saga has removed Ere some fifty miles, as the crow flies, 
to the north, and planted it on the eastern side of Arnar- 
firth, opposite the house of Otterdale. 

Page 67, 1. 14. " In those days Earl Hakon ruled over 
Norway." We have shown, see preface, p. xxii, that the 
death of Olaf Howardson must have taken place, if not 
actually in the summer of A.D. 1001, at least a very short 
time before or after. Now after Olaf's death Howard 
was a bedridden man from grief for three years (cf. pages 
1 8, 20, 27) ; then a fourth year passed when Howard's 
great affairs were settled at the Thing, in the fall of which 
probably he sold his house in accordance with the award 
given out by Guest Oddleifson (p. 64), that he should 
change his dwelling, " and not abide in this quarter of the 
land." Next he moves to Oxdale and abode there 
" certain winters " (p. 67), say two or three, and then he 
hears that Earl Hakon was dead, " and Olaf Tryggvison 
come to the land and gotten to be sole king of Norway" 
(p. 68). This news then ought at the earliest to have 
come to Howard about A.D. 1008, that is, thirteen years 
after the death of Hakon Sigurdson (ob. 995), and eight 
years after the death of Olaf Tryggvison (ob. 1000). It 
is much more likely that the Earl Hakon here meant was 
Hakon Eirikson, whom Olaf Haraldson (St. Olaf) de- 
posed 1014, he himself a zealous propagator of Chris- 
tianity, becoming sole king of Norway, 1015. 

Page 76, 1. 1 8. Skridinsenni is an exposed bold stretch 
of coast, facing the east, and running from Bitra or Bitru- 
firth north to the ness that marks the entrance to Kolla- 
firth, situate in the southernmost part of the district of 
the Strands, in wider sense, within the present bailiwick of 
Strandasysla. The Glum here mentioned was the grand- 
son of Kjallak, who, according to the Eyrbyggja saga 
(ed. 1864, ch. 57), lived "at Kjallaksa (-river) of (on) 
Skrifcinsenni." By our saga Glum had come, in one way 

1 86 The Saga Library. 

or another, into the family property at Skridinsenni, 
though his father Ospak lived' at Ere in Bitra. Glum, 
according to Eyrbyggja, was a " mere youth a few years 
after Snorri Go'Si made Saelingsdalstongue his home," 
which he did A.D. 1008 a statement, by the way, which 
well agrees with the chronology of the Banded Men's saga, 
for, in ordinary circumstances, a son of his would have 
come to man's estate about 1050. It is not reasonable to 
suppose that Glum would have changed the name of his 
grandfather's abode on coming into the property. While 
therefore the property was still in the family, as it un- 
doubtedly was at the time, or at least shortly before the 
time, that the events of the saga happened, Skridinsenni 
was a topographical, not a domiciliary term. By the time 
the saga was written down, perhaps more than two cen- 
turies afterwards, the interchange of the names of Kjal- 
laksa and Skridinsenni might have taken place. At any 
rate, the name of the old house of Kjallaksa has for a 
long time been SkrrSins or Skri'Snis or SkrftSnes-enni. 

Pages 79-80. " Uspak rides to the Thing," etc. " So 
weareth summer : Uspak rideth to the Leet." The Leet 
was an assembly called together from the three Go'SorS 
in every Thing ; it was held at the same place as the 
varbing or spring-mote, and was hallowed and ruled, or 
presided over by one of the three Go'Sar of the Thing 
(see below). It was to be held not sooner than fourteen 
days after the meeting of the Althing closed, that is, 
from July 16-22. And it might not be held later than 
on the Sunday following that Saturday on which there 
still were left eight weeks of summer, that is, on the 
Sunday which O. S. fell on August 16-22. A Leet might 
not be shorter than " daytimes-Leet," nor longer than 
two-days Leet. " It should be hallowed even as Things 
(lawful assemblies) were hallowed, and withal the right 
of a man increaseth at an hallowed Leet, even as it doth 
at a Thing. There at the Leet should all new matters in 
law be given out, likewise the Calendar and the ob- 
servance of Ember-days, and the beginning of Lent, so 

Notes. 187 

also if there was leap-year, or if to summer is added, 1 
also if men have to ride to the Althing before ten weeks 
of summer are passed. This shall be given out by that 
Go^i to whom it is due to hallow the Leet, unless they 
(the three of them) have otherwise divided it (the Leet 
business) between them." Grag. I. a. 111-112. 

Page 86, 1. I (cf. p. 95). Days of summoning, stefnu- 
dagar, the days in spring on which summons were taken 
out for the varying, and for the Althing in such cases as 
were not brought into court at the varying. These days 
are not otherwise defined than as being in spring. But 
as the rule was that summons for the Spring-thing should 
run fourteen days, and those for the Althing four or three 
weeks, the " stefnudagar " for the former, which, at its 
earliest, could not begin till May 7th, must have fallen 
on and after April 23rd, for the latter, which began on 
June 18-24, they must have fallen on May 2ist and 
afterwards. Cf. Gragas I. a. 96 : " Let summons for 
the varying not be taken out closer to it than that there 
be two weeks until that varying (meet) unto which the 
case is summoned." Ib. I. a. 126 : " It is right to sum- 
mon all cases which do not involve levy of jurors from 
home, to the Althing all the time until the passing of 
the fifth day of the week, when seven weeks of the 
summer have gone by," i.e., until the 28th of May. 
Id. I. a. 179 : " All these cases" (relating to manslaughter, 
murder, etc., which involved levy from home of jurors) 
" the plaintiff having had news thereof within four weeks 
of summer having past, or before, he shall have sum- 
moned, at the latest, on the day following that Wed- 
nesday, when six weeks of summer are past," i.e. t on 
May 2 1 st. 

Page 94, line 20, read : Gellir Thorkelson. 

Page 125, line 2, read : the son of Ulvar the son of 

1 This refers to the characteristic contrivance of the Icelandic 
calendar called Sumarauki, summer addition, invented by Thorstein 
Surt, A.D. 960, described in Islendingabok, ch. iv. 

1 88 The Saga Library. 

Page 125, line 21, read: Geir the Wealthy from 

Page 126, 1. 9. We have rendered Raufta Biorn by 
Red Biorn in order to retain the shortness of the original. 
But the real rendering would be Red-iron-ore Biorn. 
" RauEa " is the gen. sing, of " raufti," red iron ore, 
haematite, for the smelting of which Skallagrim was 
especially noted (cf. Egil's saga, ch. xxx.). Now Red 
Biorn was a settler within Skallagrim's own claim, for he 
bought land of Skallagrim between Gorgeriver and 
Steamriver (Gljufrdr ok Gufar), so he probably took up 
from Skallagrim the craft of smelting haematite on his 
land, and thereby got his nickname " Of the red ore." 

Page 126, line n, read : Gunnwald, father to Thorkel 
who, etc. 

Page 128, 1. 16. "And I know that ye shall not away 
out of the haven before the spring-tide," says Odd-a- 
Tongue to the Norwegian shipmaster, when he refuses to 
abide by Odd's fixing of the prices at which only the 
wares on board might be sold. Blundketil, on knowing 
who the chapmen were, sent his son, Herstein, "down to 
the Haven " to bid the master to his house. In the 
Landnamabokweread (pp. 53-54): "Haven-Worm settled 
lands about Melahverfi out to Charwater and Salmon- 
water, and up as far as Duck-Creek-water, and abode in 
Haven" (see the map). In describing Haven, Hofn, 
from personal inspection, Dr. Kalund says : " A little to 
the south from the homestead is formed the small bight, 
called Belgsholts-Creek. This, it is evident, has given 
the homestead its name (Haven). The bight can be 
entered only by high water, all the parts outside being 
practically laid dry at ebb. Inside the narrow entrance, 
through which a strong current runs, up towards the cliffs 
of the strand a pool is formed, a little bend or bow with 
calm water of some depth, which must have offered a 
particularly suitable anchorage for small vessels. This 
inlet, which, no doubt, was pretty frequently used as 
harbour in ancient times, is especially bespoken in the 

Notes. 189 

saga of Hen Thorir." This corroborates the accuracy of 
the saga all but completely. The Norway ship has evi- 
dently gone to anchor on a spring-tide, and has been too 
deep-going to get away by neap-tide. 

Pages 130-131. The months mentioned here, Thorri, 
Goi, and One-month " Einmanu'Sr " are the last three 
of the winter season. The historical year began at this 
time in Iceland, as practically it did throughout western 
Christendom, on Christmas day with, in Iceland, its 
heathen vigil, as it were, Yule eve. But there is every 
probability that, from the time the office of the speaker- 
at-law was created, there co-existed with the historical 
the legal year, that began on the Icelandic midsummer's 
Sunday, which fell on July 22nd to 28th. It stands to 
reason, namely, that the speaker, having at the close of 
each Althing session to deliver to the Go'Sar the calendar 
of the ensuing year, in order that they again might pub- 
lish the same to their thingmen at the Leets in the course 
of July and August, should have chosen a convenient 
point of time to start from. The above date was ob- 
viously convenient, "Midsummer" being a date term 
familiar to every peasant in the country. Hence the 
old order of the months in the vulgar calendar of Ice- 
land : 

I. Heyannir (Haytoil) .... July August. 
II. KornskurSarmanuftr, or Tvi- 
manuSr (Corn shearing or 
Twainmonth) Aug. September. 

III. HaustmanuSr (Harvest- 

month) Sept. October. 

IV. Gormanu'Sr (Slaughter- 

month) Oct. November. 

V. Frermanu'Sr (Frost-month) . Nov. December. 
VI. Hrutmanu'Sr or Morsugur 

(Ram-month or Fat-sucker) Dec. January. 

VII. Thorri Jan. February. 

VIII. Goi Feb. March. 

190 The Saga Library. 

IX. EinmanuSr (One [ = last 

Winter-] month) .... March April. 
X. GaukmdnuSr (Cuckoo) or 
SaStfiS (Seedtide) or Harpa 
(Harp = Songbirds'- 

month?) April May. 

XI. EggtftS(Eggtide)orStekkti'3 l May June. 
XII. Solmanu'Sr or SelmanuSr 

(Sun or Dairy-month) . . June July. 

Only Thorri, Goi, Einmanu'Sr, and TvimanuSr are 
mentioned in the sagas. All the months are enumerated 
in Snorra Edda's Skaldskaparmal (S. E., i. 510512), 
only Snorri starts with " Haustmanu^r," which began 
about the autumnal equinox, Sept. 20-26 ; but that is not 
to be taken to mean that he regarded " Haustmanu^r " 
as the first month of the year. In collecting for the use 
of poets the various terms for divisions of time, he comes 
to the terms of the seasons, and starts from the autumnal 
equinox ; so, in order to keep to the logical nexus of his 
argument, he begins his enumeration of the months from 
the same time mark. But we may also mention that 
the oldest computistic treatise in Icelandic literature 
(Cod. Reg., 1812, 4to., Royal Lib. Copenh.) starts its 
enumeration of the months with September, on the 
ground that it is the first month in the cycle of the 
Epacts, the term meant being September 23. Did Snorri 
Sturluson actually handle this precious volume, which, 
as it now exists, was written at least forty years before 
his death, and base on it his list of the months ? 

Page 152, 1. 15 foil. "So when the boards were set, 
Herstein the bridegroom leapt up and over the board to 
where was a certain stone ; then he set one foot upon the 
stone and spake: 'This oath I swear hereby, that be- 

1 " Stekkr," a fold for young lambs. The period from the time 
the ewes lamb (May) till the time of the so-called "frafasrur," when 
the lambs are weaned from the dams (end of June), is popularly 
called " stekktfts." During that time the lambs are kept at night 
inside a fold under roof. 

Notes. 191 

fore the Althing is over this summer I shall have Arn- 
grim the priest made fully guilty, or gained self-doom 
else,' " etc. 

This is one of the many instances we meet with in the 
Icelandic sagas of solemn vows, usually of a desperate 
character, being made on festive occasions. Already in 
the ancient lay of Helgi Hiorvardson (Older Edda) the 
custom is mentioned : " King Hiorvard had made a vow 
to this end that he should marry the goodliest woman he 
should come to know of." In Ynglinga saga (ch. 40), a 
very interesting description is given of the ceremony 
observed when vows were taken in style, as it were. 
Ingjald the Evil-minded, the Over-king at Upsala, on 
succeeding his father, made a great " arvel," feast, to 
which he invited six neighbouring kinglets, for whom he 
had six high seats fitted up in a new banqueting hall. 
" It was a wont of those days, when an arvel was to be 
made after kings or earls, that he who made the feast 
and was to be ' lead to heritage' should sit on the ledge 
(footstool) before the high seat all the time until the 
bringing in of that bumper which was called ' Bragi's 
Bumper.' Then he must rise up against Bragi's 
Bumper, and make a vow and quaff the bumper after- 
wards. Thereupon he should be led to the high seat 
that was his father's ; and then he had come into all the 
heritage the father had left. Now in this same wise this 
was done here. And when Bragi's Bumper came in, 
King Ingjald rose and took in hand a mighty horn of a 
wild ox, and he made the vow that he should widen out 
his kingdom by half towards every side or else die. 
Whereupon he quaffed off the horn. And when men 
were drunk in the evening, King Ingjald spake to Folk- 
vid and Hulvid, the sons of Svipdag, and bade them be- 
weapon themselves and their men even as had been 
settled earlier in the evening. So they went out to the 
new hall and brought fire up to it, and therewith it began 
to burn. And therewithin there burned six kings with 
all their folk, but those who sought to get out were 

192 The Saga Library. 

swiftly cut down. Thereupon King Ingiald made him- 
self master of all the lands these kings had owned, and 
gathered tribute from them." 

A wiser vow, made for a nobler end, was that of Her- 
stein, the son of Earl Atli the Slender of Gaular in 
Norway, as recorded in the F16amanna saga (Fornsogur, 
Leipzig, 1860, p. 121). Ingolf, son of Orn, the first 
settler in Iceland, together with his foster-brother Leif 
(Hiorleif), invited the sons of the earl, Hastein and Her- 
stein, to a banquet, at which Herstein cast fond glances 
at Helga, the sister of Ingolf, "the goodliest and the 
best-mannered of women," and made a vow that her 
he would have for wife or no woman else. " Said he, he had 
been the first to begin this play, ' and now, Ingolf, it is 
thy turn,' quoth he. Answered Ingolf: 'Let Herstein 
now have his say first, for he is the wisest of us, and the 
first in all matters whatsoever.' Then Hastein said : 
' This vow I make that, though I be beholden to men, I 
shall not twist a right judgment aside if the same be en- 
trusted to me on faith.' Said Herstein : ' This vow of 
thine is not at all by so much the more discreet that thou 
art counted wiser than we are, or what dost thou mean 
to do, if thou hast to give out an award concerning 
friends or foes ? ' Hastein answered : ' Thereto I 
mean to see myself.' " As it happened, his next award 
was to deprive the foster-brothers of their lands and 
goods, and to exile them from their country of Firdir, 
an award which was the immediate cause of Iceland 
being settled. 

The blind belief in the sanctity and inviolability of 
these vows, once made, no matter how unwisely, is well 
illustrated by the story of the vow of Hrafnkel Frey's 
priest (Hrafnkelssaga, pp. 5 and 8) : " Hrafnkel owned a 
choice thing which he prized above whatever else ; it was 
a horse which he called Frey-Faxe. Half of that horse 
he gave to his friend Frey. For this horse he had 
so great a love that he made a vow to put to death any- 
one who durst ride it without his leave. . . In the 

Notes. 193 

morning he has a horse fetched and saddled, and rode 
up to the mountain dairy. In blue raiment he rode, 
axe in hand, but with no more of weapons. Then Einar 
(his shepherd) had just driven the ewes into the fold and 
lay on the wall thereof counting his flock while the 
women were a-milking. They (his servants) greeted him, 
and he asked how they were getting on. ' It has gone 
awkwardly with me,' said Einar, ' I have missed thirty 
ewes for a week, but have now found them at last.' 
Hrafnkel said he had no fault to find on that score. 
' But hast thou not done something worse ? Didst thou 
not have a ride on Faxe the other day ? ' Einar said he 
might not gainsay that utterly. ' Why didst thou ride 
on this horse which was forbidden thee, seeing thou 
hadst plenty of other horses to choose from, which thou 
wast free to use ? Now I should have forgiven thee this 
one case, had I not made such a solemn vow about it 
already, because, moreover, thou hast owned to it in a 
manly wise.' But whereas he believed that such men 
who should break their own vows never would come to 
aught good, he leapt off his horse and upon Einar and 
dealt him a death-wound then and there." 

Numerous other instances might be added, notably 
the famous vows of the Jomsvikings, which brought 
them to their ruin in the reputed battle of Hiorungavog 
against Earl Hakon of Norway, about A.D. 994 (Joms- 
vikinga saga) ; King Harold Hairfair's vow (Heims- 
kringla) ; Hroald Haraldson's, the bow-breaker's (Hord 
Grimkelson's saga), Emperor Otto the First's (Joms- 
vikinga saga), etc. 

Page 161, 1. 25. " My handmaidens." His arrows, to 
wit. For the " sleep-thorn," here used for the long sleep 
of death, see Volsunga saga, chap. xx. 




ALF-A-D ALES, Alfr i D61- 
um, 154. 

AN, Ann, a homeman of As- 
brand of Asbrandstead, and 
fosterer of his son, Hallgrim, 
joins Howard's band of re- 
venge, 3 2 ; slain by Brand 
the Strong, 36; atoned at 
the Althing, 64. 

ART the Learned, author of 
Islendingabok and Land- 
nama, xii, xiii, xxii. 

ARNDIS, Arndis, daughter of 
Hedin, wife to Hedin, the 
father of Halla, xviii. 

ARNGRIM, Arngrimr,the Priest, 
son of Helgi, dwelt at North- 
tongue, 125 ; gives his son 
Helgi in fostering to Hen 
Thorir, 127; refuses to listen 
to Hen Thorir's slandering 
of Blundketil, 135-137 ; 
warns Thorwald, son of 
Odd-a-Tongue, not to take 
up Hen Thorir's case against 
Blundketil, 1 3 8- 1 40 ; yet 
joins in summoning Blund- 
ketil and in burning him in 
his house, 140, 142, 143 ; 
gathers forces to defeat 
Thord Gellir's blood-suit 

after Blundketil, 153; is 
made a full outlaw at the 
Althing, and goes abroad an 
exile, 158. 

ASBRAND, Asbrandr, Biargey's 
brother, 29. 

ASDIS, sister to Liot the Sage, 
wife of Ospak Osvifson, xiii, 

ASMUND, Asmundr, the Long- 
hoary, father of Thordis, the 
wife of Glum of Skridins- 
enni, 76. 

ATLI "the Little," "the 
Miser" of Otterdale, his 
miserly ways and abuse of 
Steinthor of Ere, his brother- 
in-law, 5 1-55 ; his bounteous 
ways and praises of Stein- 
thor, 55 ; shelters Howard 
and his followers, while 
Steinthor goes to the Al- 
thing, 5 7-65 ; his dream, 
warning of advancing foes, 
59, 60 ; his fight with the 
Dyrafirthers, 60-63 > honours 
paid to him at Howard's 
triumphal banquet, 66. 

BANDED MEN, The, their plot 
to ruin Odd of Mel, 94 ; 


The Saga Library. 

are rated all round by old 
Ufeig of Reeks, 110-112; 
their plot foiled, and their 
angry bandying of words 
with Egil Skulison, 113-117. 

BERGTHOR, Bergforr, of Bod- 
varsknolls, the judge who 
summed up the case for 
Uspak Glumson's outlawry, 

BERSI, son of Halldor, the son 
of Gunnbiorn,father toThor- 
mod Coalbrowscald, xvi. 

BIALFI, a half-witted brother 
to Mar Hildison of Swala- 
stead, wounds Uspak mor- 
tally, 1 20, 121. 

BIARGEY, daughter of Val- 
brand, xvi-xvii ; wife of Ho- 
ward the Halt, 2 ; her brave 
behaviour in her grief for 
the loss of Olaf, 18-30; 
urges Howard to claim 
atonem ent of Thorbiorn, 1 9 ; 
again to seek atonement at 
the Althing, 20, 21 ; her 
meeting with Thorbiorn on 
the sea, 27 ; rouses Howard 
to the revenge of Olaf for 
the last time, 30, 31 ; enter- 
tains with Howard at a feast 
Guest Oddleifson, Steinthor 
of Ere, and Atli of Otter- 
dale, 66, 67 ; goes with Ho- 
ward abroad, is christened, 
and dies that same winter, 
67, 68. 

BLUNDKETIL, Blundketill, son 
of Geir the Wealthy, dwelt 
atOrnolfsdale,i25, 126 ; the 
wealthiest and best beloved 

of men, 126; bids to his 
home Erne, the Norwegian 
shipmaster, in spite of Odd- 
a-Tongue, 129, 130; craves, 
when hay harvest fails, his 
rents in hay, and orders his 
tenants to cut down their 
live stock accordingly, 130; 
his kind-heartedness as a 
landlord, 131,132; goes with 
his tenants to Hen Thorir 
to bargain for hay, 132-135 ; 
is burnt in his own house by 
Thorwald, Odd-a-Tongue's 
son, in company with Hen 
Thorir and Arngrim the 
Go'Si, xxxi, 142, 143 ;Thord 
Gellir's account of him, 149, 
150 ; award for his burning 
given out at the Althing, 

BRAND, Brandr, the Strong, 
of the household of Thor- 
biorn Thiodrekson, 2 ; gets 
Olaf Howardson to rid him 
of the ghost of Thormod of 
Bank, 10, n ; rouses Thor- 
biorn's jealousy of Olaf by 
praising him for the deed, 
n, 12 ; prevents Thorbiorn 
slaying Thorhall and maim- 
ing Biargey, 28 ; slain by 
Hallgrim Asbrandson, 35, 
36 ; atoned at the Althing, 

BURISLAV, King of Gardar 
(Russia), xviii. 

DAGSTYGG (Dayshy), King of 

the Giants, xviii. 
DYRI of Dyrafirth, " next of 



account to Thorarin the 
Priest," a fictitious character, 
plans with Thorarin the 
priest of Dyrafirth an armed 
onset on Atli of Otterdale, 
and rides with Thorarin to 
the Althing, 58 ; agrees to 
Guest Oddleifson's settling 
of peace between the kin of 
Thorbiorn and Howard, 63, 
64 ; heavily censured by 
Guest for his double-deal- 
ing, 65. 

EGIL, Egill, the son of Skuli, 
one of the Banded Men (he 
was the great-grandson of 
Egil Skallagrimson), 94, 96 ; 
how he was bribed out of 
the plot of the Banded Men 
by Ufeig, " theold carle," 97- 
103; undertakes to be joint- 
awarder with Gellir Thor- 
kelson in Odd's bribery 
case, 113; and to defend 
the same before the Banded 
Men, 1 1 3- 1 1 7 ; goes to Odd's 
bridal, 1 1 8. 

EGIL, son of Valastein, xiv. 

EINAR Fly, Einarr Fluga, the 
king's bailiff over Finmark, 

EINAR, Einarr, son of Jarn- 
skeggi, 105. 

ELIN (Helen), daughter of 
Burislav, King of Gardar 
(Russia), xviii. 

BREMEN, the descendants of 
Stein thor of Ere, 104. 

ERIC, Eirikr, King of Upsala, 

ERNE, Orn, a Norwegian ship, 
master, 127; refuses to abide 
by Odd-a-Tongue's apprais- 
ing of his wares, 1 28 ; goes 
in his despite to Blundketil's 
house, 129, 130; hearing of 
Hen Thorir having insult- 
ingly summoned Blundketil, 
he shoots an arrow after the 
summoning band and kills 
Helgi, Arngrim Gobi's son, 
on the spot, 141-143; is 
burnt in Blundketil's house, 


EYOLF, Eyjolfr (or Eyjiilfr), 
the Gray of Otterdale, 
shelters in his old age 
Howard the Halt after the 
slaughter of Thorbiorn 
Thiodrekson, xv, xxii. 

EYIULF, son of Valbrand, one 
of Howard's band of re- 
venge, 28, 32, 38, 39, 40, 
61, 62; banished the land 
during the lifetime of Tho- 
rarin, the priest of Dyra- 
firth, 64. 

EYVIND, Eyvindr, the East- 
man, father to Snaebiorn and 
Helgi the Lean, xvii. 

EYVIND Knee, a settler in 
Icefirth (see map), great- 
grandfather to Biargey, the 
wife of Howard the Halt, 

GEIR the Wealthy, Geirr 
hinn auSgi, son of Ketil 
Blund, 125. 

GEIRDIS, mother of Howard, 
41, in the verse. 


The Saga Library. 

GELLIR, not Thordson, but 
Thorkelson of Holyfell, the 
grandfather of Ari the 
Learned, one of the Banded 
Men, 94 . ; is bribed by 
old Ufeig out of the plot of 
the Banded Men, 103-108; 
undertakes to be a joint- 
judge with Egil Skulison in 
the bribery case of Odd, 
and to give out the award, 
113 ; gives one of his 
daughters in marriage to 
Odd, and attends the bridal, 
118; died at Roskilde in 
Denmark, 1073, xxvii. 
GLUM, GMmr, son of Uspak 
Kjallakson, of Skridinsenni, 
GORM, Gormr, a Swedish duke, 


GRETTIR the Strong, 76. 
GRIM, Grimr, son of Thor- 
biorn of Ere (probably the 
same as the Landnama, 
p. 145, calls Sigurd, son of 
Grim Kogr), slays Liot of 
Redsand, and joins Ho- 
ward's band at Steinthor of 
Ere's, 46-49, 61, 62 ; ba- 
nished the land for the life- 
time of Thorarin the priest 
of Dyrafirth, 64. 
GRIM KOGR, father of Sigurd 
and Thorkel, who slew Liot 
the Sage, xiii-xv. 
GRIMOLF, Grim61fr, son of 

Olaf Evenpate, xvii. 
GRIOTGARTH, Grjotgarfcr, Earl 
of Hladir in Norway, uncle 
to Earl Hakon, xiii. 

GROA, daughter of Herfinn an d 
Halla, wife of Hroar and 
mother of Sle"ttu-Biorn, xviii. 

GUEST Oddleifson, Gestr 
Oddleifsson, of Mead on 
Bardstrand, the northern 
shore of Broadfirth (see note 
to p. 1 3), visits Liot the Sage, 
xiv ; gives his sister in mar- 
riage to Thorbiorn Thio- 
drekson, 1 3 ; forces Thor- 
biorn to make atonement in 
threefold weregild for Olaf 
Howardson, 24-26 ; settles 
peace for Howard at the 
Althing, 63-65. 

GUNNAR, Gunnarr, son of 
Hlifar, married to Helga, 
the sister of Thord Gellir, 
1 46 ; forced by Thorkel 
Welt to promise his daughter 
Thurid, the foster-daughter 
of Thord Gellir, in marriage 
to Herstein, the son of 
Blundketil, 146-148; and 
then first knows of Blund- 
ketil's burning, and that 
Herstein is a homeless 
orphan, 148, 149 ; beguiles 
Thord Gellir to betroth in 
his own name Thurid to 
Herstein, before telling him 
anything of the burning of 
Blundketil, 149-15 1 ; his vow 
at the bridal of Herstein, his 
son-in-law, 152; flits his 
house to Ornolfsdale, 155 ; 
refuses Thorod, Odd-a- 
Tongue's son, his daughter, 
while at enmity with the 
latter, 159, 160; is set upon 



by Odd-a-Tongue, but de- 
fended by Thorod, who 
makes peace between them, 

GUNNAR, son of Valbrand, 
and brother to Biargey, 

GUNNBIORN, Gunnbjorn, son 
of Wolf the Crow, discoverer 
of Gunnbiorn Skerries, xvi. 

GUNNLAUG, mother of Ufeig 
of Reeks, 73. 

GUNNSTEIN, Gunnsteinn, son 
of Gunnbiorn, xvi. 

GUNNWALD, Gunnvaldr, son 
of Red Biorn, brother to 
Thorkel Welt, 126. 

HAKON, Earl of Norway, A.D. 

976-99S. 6 7- 
HALL, Hallr, son of Styrmir of 

Asgeirswater, 105. 
HALLA, mother to Thorgils, 

kinsman of Guest Oddleif- 

son, 24. 
HALLA, daughter of Hedin, 

wife to Herfinn, the son of 

Thorgils, xviii. 
HALLDIS, sister to Liot the 

Sage, married to Thorbiorn 

Thiodrekson, xiii. 
HALLDOR, Halld6rr, son of 

Gunnbiorn, xvi. 
HALLGRIM, Hallgrimr, son of 

Asbrand, one of Howard's 

band of revenge, 29, 32, 33, 

3 8 > 39. 4i, 42, 5 6 > 6l > 6z i 
banished the land for the 
lifetime of Thorarin the 
priest of Dyrafirth, 64. 

HALLGRIM, son of Valbrand, 
and brother to Biargey, 

HAROLD, Haraldr, " HarS- 
rajS'i" (cruel-minded), son 
of Sigurd, King of Norway, 
1046-1066, xxvi, in; hood- 
winked by Odd Ufeigson, 
169, 170. 

HARDREF, HarSrefr, father to 
Thorgrim, the father to Liot 
the Sage, xiii. 

HAREK, Harekr, a kinsman of 
Thorstein Odd Ufeigson's 
friend, takes stallions to 
Norway as a gift for Thor- 
stein, 174, 175. 

HEDIN, He'Sinn, father to 
Arndis, the wife of Hedin, 
the father of Halla, the wife 
of Herfinn, xviii. 

HEDIN, father to Halla, the 
wife of Herfinn, xviii. 

HELGA, sister of Thord Gellir, 
wife of Gunnar, son of 
Hlifar, 146. 

HELGA, daughter of Thorgeir 
of Withymere, wife of 
Thorkel, son of Gunnwald, 

126 n. 

HELGI, son of Arngrim, the 
priest of Northtongue, 125; 
is fostered by Hen Thorir, 

127 ; refutes openly all 
Hen Thorir's slandering of 
Blundketil, 136, 137; goes 
with Hen Thorir to the sum- 
moning of Blundketil, 140 ; 
is slain by an arrow- shot of 
Master Erne's, 141, 142. 

HELGI, son of Hogni, father to 


The Saga Library. 

Arngrim, the priest of 
Northtongue, 125. 

HELGI, son of Red Biorn, and 
brother to Thorkel Welt, 
dwelt at Hwamm in North- 
waterdale, 126 ; with his 
brother, Thorkel Welt, he 
joins Thord Gellir in the 
suit for the burning of 
Blundketil, 154. 

HELGI the Lean, the settler of 
the whole of Eyiafirth, xvii, 
xx, xliv, xlv. 

HEN THORIR, Haensa-fdrir, a 
tramping pedlar, amongst 
other things, in poultry, 
wherewith he grew so 
wealthy that he became a 
landowner, with his seat 
" at Water" up from North- 
tongue, 126; persuades Arn- 
grim the priest to give him 
his son Helgi to bring up, 
127 ; amasses wealth, yet is 
in ill favour of folk, ib. ; re- 
fuses to sell aught of his 
over-plenty of hay to Blund- 
ketil for his tenants, 132-135; 
he goes to visit neighbours 
to tell them how he has 
been robbed by Blundketil, 
135-137 ; bribes Thorwald, 
son of Odd-a-Tongue, to set 
up a law-case against Blund- 
ketil, 137-140; brings about 
the burning in his house of 
Blundketil, 142, 143; is 
summoned to the Spring 
court of Thingness by Thord 
Gellir, 153 ; vanishes from 
the countryside, ib. ; lays an 

ambush for Herstein, but is 
killed himself, 158. 

HERFINN, Herfinnr, son of 
Thorgils, the son of Gorm 
a Swedish duke, xviii. 

HERGRIM, Hergrimr, son of 
Thorgils, the son of Gorm, a 
Swedish duke, xviii. 

HERMUND, son of Illugi the 
Black of Gilsbank, one of 
the Banded Men (he was an 
older brother of Gunnlaug 
the Wormtongue, and must 
have been by this time a 
very old man), 94, 96 ; for 
his part in the plot against 
Odd of Mel, see Banded 
Men; he sets out with a 
band of men to burn Egil of 
Burg in his house, but dies 
on the way, 119. 

HERSTEIN, Hersteinn, son of 
Blundketil, 126; befriends 
Erne, the Norwegian ship- 
master, 128, 129; staying 
with his foster-father Thor- 
biorn, on the night of his 
father's burning within, he 
has a dream telling him of 
the event, 143; goes with 
Thorbiorn for help and 
counsel to Odd-a-Tongue, 
143 ; witnesses him hallow 
to himself, by fire, his patri- 
mony, 144; and his foster- 
father moving in wizard's 
manner all goods and live 
stock from the burnt house 
westaway-ward to Swigni- 
skarth, 144, 145; his vow at 
his own wedding feast, 152 ; 



takes up his abode at Gun- 
narstead, 155 ; goes to Orn- 
olfsdale when other folk 
have gone to the Thing, 
156; escapes being betrayed 
into Hen Thorir's ambush, 
and slays him, and rides 
with his head to the Althing, 

157, IS 8 - 

HOGNI, Hogni, son of Hall- 
dor, father to Helgi, the 
father to Arngrim the priest, 

HOLMSTEIN, Hdlmsteinn, son 
of Snaebiorn of Waterfirth, 

halti, xv-xxiii ; dwelt at 
Bluemere, a whilom viking 
and of good blood, i ; chafes 
under the slanders of Thor- 
biorn Thiodrekson, 7 ; his 
converse with Thorgerd of 
Bank, 7, 8 ; is robbed by 
Thorbiorn of a whale, 9, 10 ; 
flits across Icefirth out of 
Thorbiorn's into his own 
kindred's neighbourhood, 
and builds a house called 
Howardstead, xix-xxi, 12 ; 
his grief for the death of his 
son Olaf, 18-27; claims 
atonement of Thorbiorn, and 
is ill-treated by him, 19; 
rides on the same errand to 
the Althing, is befriended 
by Guest Oddleifson, but 
brutally insulted by Thor- 
biorn, 21-27; slays Thor- 
biorn in revenge for his son, 
30-39 ; slays Liot of Moon- 

berg, 38-41 ; is sheltered by 
Steinthor of Ere and Atli of 
Otterdale, 42-65 ; peace 
settled for him by Guest 
Oddleifson at the Althing, 
63* 64 ; gives a great feast 
in honour of Guest and 
Steinthor and Atli, 66, 67 ; 
flits to Oxdale off Swarfa- 
dardale, 67 ; goes abroad, 
and is christened, and comes 
back with much church 
timber ; and settles in Thor- 
hallsdale, and dies, 68. 

HROAR, father to Sle*ttu-Biorn, 

HROMUND, Hromundr (son of 
Thorir), a settler, 125. 

INGIGERD, IngigerSr, sister to 
Dagstygg, queen of King 
Burislav of Gardar, xviii. 

JARNGERD, JarngerSr, mother 
of Ufeig of the Skards, 73. 

JARNGERD, daughter of Ufeig 
Jarngerdson of the Skards, 
mother of Gunnlaug, the 
mother of Ufeig of Reeks, 


JARNSKEGGI, son of Einar 
Eyolfson brother to Gud- 
mund the Mighty of Mo- 
druvellir in Eyiafirth in the 
North, a Banded Man, 94. 

JOFRID, Jofrft5r, daughter of 
Gunnar the son of Hlifar, 
146 ; marries Thorod, son 
of Odd-a-Tongue, 159-163; 
after one year or so she 


The Saga Library. 

marries Thorstein of Burg, 

the son of Egil, 163. 
JOFRID, daughter of Odd-a- 

Tongue, 125. 
JORUN, Jorunn (daughter of 

Helgi), wife of Odd-a- 

Tongue, 125, 154. 

KETIL BLUND, Ketill Blundr, 

a settler, 125. 
KOLSKEGG, Kolskeggr, the 

Learned, xii, note 2. 

LIOT THE SAGE, Ljdtr spaki, 
of Ingialdsand, son of Thor- 
grirn, xiii ; slain by the sons 
of Grim Kogr, xiv, xv. 

LIOT, al. Holmgangliot, Ljdtr, 
Holmgongu-Ljotr, of Red- 
sand, a spurious character 
fashioned out of Liot the 
Sage of Ingialdsand (see 
preface, pp. xiii-xv), 45 ; his 
difference with Thorbiorn 
of Ere about a water- 
meadow, 46 ; is set upon and 
slain by the sons of Thor- 
biorn, 47, 48; no atone- 
ment for him awarded at the 
Althing, 64. 

LIOT, reputed " brother to 
Thorbiorn, and in all wise 
as like him as might be," is 
otherwise unknown as one 
of the sons of Thiodrek, 2 ; 
is attacked and slain in his 
house by Howard and his 
band, 38-41. 

MAR, Marr, son of Hildir, the 

second husband of Swala, 
murdered by Uspak, 120. 

NESTOR, the historian of 
Russia, xviii. 

ODD, Oddr, Thorbrandson, 
one of Howard's band of 
revenge, 29, 32, 39, 41, 61, 
62 ; banished the land for 
the lifetime of Thorarin, 
the priest of Dyrafirth, 64. 

ODD, Oddr, son of Ufeig of 
Reeks, grows up in little 
favour with his father, 73, 
74 ; leaves home, and makes 
money by fishing and carry- 
ing cargoes between Mid- 
firth and the Strands, 74, 
75 ; he takes to trading 
abroad, and was oft with 
lords and men of dignity, 
75 ; buys the estate of Mel, 
and is accounted the richest 
man in Iceland, 76 ; takes 
in Uspak Glumson, and likes 
him well, 76, 77 ; takes up 
or buys a new Go'SorS, 77 ; 
gives his house and Go'SorS 
in Uspak's charge while 
going abroad, 78-80 ; re- 
turns and forces Uspak to 
hand over to him his Go^S- 
orft, 81, 82 ; misses forty 
wethers at autumn folding, 
and lays the theft on Uspak, 
83 ; bargains with his kins- 
man Vali to find out the 
truth, 83, 84 ; goes to sum- 
mon Uspak, but is hood- 
winked by Swala, 86 ; pro- 



secutes Uspakat the Althing 
and loses the case, 87-89 ; 
wins it again through the 
guiles of his father, 90-93 ; 
is informed by his father of 
the plot of the Banded Men, 
95 ; he brings all his wealth 
in chattels on board ship in 
Ramfirth, 97 ; hears from 
his father how his case was 
won, 117; sails to Orkney, 
and coming back marries a 
daughter of Gellir Thorkel- 
son, 117-119 ; adventure 
with Einar Fly, 167-169 ; 
hoodwinks King Harold, 

ODD-A-TONGUE, Tungu-Oddr, 
son of Onund Broadbeard, a 
GoSi, " not held for a man of 
fair dealings," 125 ; as Go^i 
he claims to settle the prices 
of Erne the Norwegian's 
imported wares, 127, 128; 
lets the matter rest, on 
knowing that Blundketil 
has befriended Erne, 130 ; 
will have nought to do with 
Hen Thorir's slanders of 
Blundketil, 137 ; gathers 
forces to oppose Thord Gel- 
lir at the spring-mote of 
Thingness, 153; meets him 
at Whitewater with over- 
whelming force, so Thord, 
after some fighting and loss 
of men, has to retire, 154; 
goes to the Althing and 
rights again with Thord, but 
is over-mastered, and "it 
went heavily with him," 155- 

158; sets on Gunnar of Orn- 
olfsdale with intent to burn 
him in his house, but is pre- 
vented by his own son, 
Thorod, who makes peace 
between them, 160-163. 

OGMUND, Ogmundr, son of 
Valastein, xiv. 

OLAF Evenpate, Olafr Jafna- 
kollr, a settler in Icefirth 
(see map), xvii. 

OLAF Feilan, father to Thord 
Gellir ; xxxii. 

OLAF, son of Howard, xv- 
xviii, "young of years, the 
doughtiest of men," etc., 2 ; 
he had " bear's-warmth," 
bjarn-ylr (and is therefore 
sometimes in Icelandic 
folk-lore called O. Bear's- 
Warmth), 3 ; his luck in 
finding missing sheep in 
autumn, 4-6 ; visits Sigrid, 
Thorbiorn's housekeeper, 
5 ; his wrath at being slan- 
dered for theft, 7 ; his fight 
with the ghost of Thormod 
of Bank, 8-n ; his fight with 
Thorbiorn, and death, 14- 
1 8 ; the date of the event, 
xxii ; atonement awarded for 
him at the Althing, 63. 

OLAF Tryggvison, King of 
Norway, 995-1000, 67, 68. 

ONUND Broadbeard, Onundr 
BrerSskeggr, a land-settler, 
son of Ulfar the son of 
Wolf of Fitiar, father to 
Odd-a-Tongue, 125. 

ORLIG, Orlygr, the Old, son of 
Hrapp, a settler, 125. 


The Saga Library. 

ORNOLF, Orndlfr, a goodman 
who tries to betray Herstein 
into Hen Thorir's ambush, 

OSPAK, Ospakr, Osvifson, xiii. 

RANVEIG, daughter of Earl 

Griotgarth, mother to Liot 

the Sage, xiii. 
RED BIORN, RauSa-Bjorn (see 

note to p. 126), a settler, 


SCART, Skarfr, son of Thordis 
of the Knoll the sister of 
Thorbiorn Thiodrekson, 3 ; 
falls fighting against Olaf 
Howardson, 1 7 ; judged un- 
worthy of atonement at the 
Althing, 64. 

SIGRID, SigrfSr, "young and 
high - born, " Thorbiorn 
Thiodrekson's housekeeper, 
1,3, 4; goes from Thorbiorn 
of Bathstead to live with 
Thoralfof Loonsere, 13, 14; 
warns Olaf Howardson not 
to fight with Thorbiorn, 14 ; 
disappeared on the day that 
Olaf fell, and was never heard 
of again, 18. 

SIGURD, SigurSr, son of Grim, 
the slayer of Liot the Sage, 

SKEGGBRODDI, son of Biarni, 
from Hof in Weaponfirth, 
in eastern Iceland, one of 
the Banded Men, 94, 97. 

SKIDI, father of Ufeig of Reeks, 

SLETTU- BIORN, son of Hroar, 
a settler of Skagafiord, xviii. 

SNJEBIORN, Snaebjorn, son of 
Egvind the Eastman, a 
settler in Icefirth, xvii. 

SN^BIORN Gait, Snaebjorn 
Galti, son of Holmstein the 
son of Snaebiorn, xvii. 

SNORRI the Priest, GoSi, 104. 

SNORRI, son of Kalf, a descen- 
dant of Odd of Mel, 121. 

STEINGRIM, Steingrfmr, son of 
Eyolf the Gray, xv, xxii. 

STEINOLF, Steindlfr, the Short, 
a settler in Saurby in the 
Dales, in western Iceland, 

STEINTHOR of Ere, Steinfdrr 
af Eyri (see preface, p. xv), 
a mighty chief from Broad- 
firth, befriends Howard, 
coming to theThingto claim 
atonement of Thorbiorn 
Thiodrekson for his son 
Olaf, 21-23 ; shelters Ho- 
ward and his band after the 
slaughter of Thorbiorn and 
Liot of Moonberg (see pre- 
face, p. xv), 41-45 ; takes in 
the slayers of Holmgang- 
Liot, 48-50 ; his chief-like 
safe-guarding of Howard and 
the sons of Thorbiorn of 
Ere, 49-53, cf. xv; his visit to 
Atli the Little of Otterdale, 
5*~55 > g es to the Althing 
and acts with Guest Odd- 
leifson in settling peace for 
Howard, 63-65 ; his daugh- 
ters referred to as of mar- 
riageable age, 104. 



STURLA, son of Thiodrek, 
brother to Thorbiorn, 27, 
34 ; slain by Torfi Valbrand- 
son, 36-38 ; weregild set- 
tlement for him at the Al- 
thing, 63 ; a mistake of the 
saga, for Sturla never went 
to Icefirth, but abode in 
Saurby, and lived long after 
Thorbiorn's death. 

STYRMIR of Asgeirswater, son 
of Thorgeir, a Go^i, one of 
the Banded Men, combines 
with Thorarin of Longdale 
to upset Odd's case against 
Uspak, 87, 88 ; sets afoot 
with Thorarin a plot to ruin 
Odd, 94 ; summons Odd for 
having brought bribes into 
court, 95 ; comes to the Al- 
thing, 96; bears the chief 
part in the plot of the 
Banded Men, 98 ; is severely 
rated by "OldUfeig," no. 

SWALA, Svala, " a fair woman 
and a young," of Swalastead 
in Willowdale, prays Uspak 
to take over the charge of 
her house, 80 ; she betroths 
herself to and marries Us- 
pak, and goes to live with 
him at Mel, 81 ; saves Us- 
pak from Odd's attack, 86 ; 
married a second time to 
Mar, son of Hildir, 120. 

SWART, Svartr, a thrall at Ere, 

THIODREK, fjoftrekr, son of 
Sle'ttu-Biorn, moves his 

home from Saurby to Ice- 
firth, xviii. 

THIODREK, son of Sturla Thio- 
drekson, 27, 34, 63. 

THORA, J>6ra, daughter of 
King Eric of Upsala, xviii. 

THORA, daughter of Gunn- 
stein, wife to Olaf Evenpate, 

THORALF, )?6ralfr, of Loon- 
sere, a kinsman of Sigrid 
Thorbiorn Thiodrekson's 
housekeeper, 3 ; takes his 
kinswoman Sigrid from 
Bathstead with her goods 
appraised to her, 13. 

THORARIN, porarinn, foster- 
son of Liot the Sage, xiii. 

THORARIN the Sage, the Go'Si 
of the men of Longdale in 
Hunavatns-Thing, one of the 
Banded Men, refuses to 
give his kinswoman Swala 
in marriage to Uspak Glum- 
son, 80, 8 1 ; joins Styrmir 
of Asgeirswater to upset 
Odd's case against Uspak, 
87, 88 ; and in a plot to 
ruin Odd, 94; and in sum- 
moning Odd for having 
bribed the judges at the 
Althing, 95 ; comes to the 
Althing, 97 ; is, with Styr- 
mir of Asgeirswater, the ring- 
leader in the plot of the 
Banded Men, 98. 

THORARIN, " brother of those 
sons of Thiodrek, a priest 
of Dyrafirth," a spurious 
character, plans with Thor- 
grim, Dyri's son, an armed 


The Saga Library. 

onset on Atli of Otterdale, 
and rides to the Althing, 
58 ; agrees to Guest Odd- 
leifson's settling of peace 
between him and Howard 
at the Althing, 63, 64; is 
soundly rated by Guest for 
double-dealing, 65. 

THORBIORN, Jjorbjorn, of Ere, 
the father of Grim and 
Thorstein, who slew " Liot 
of Redsand," is the same 
person which the Landnama 
calls Grim Kogr (see pre- 
face, p. xiii), 45, 46; his 
dealings with Liot about a 
water-meadow, 46, 47 ; his 
device for escaping blood- 
suit after the slaughter of 
Liot by his sons, 48-50 ; the 
meadow awarded him at the 
Althing, 64. 

THORBIORN, the fosterer of 
Herstein Blundketil's son, 
skilled in magic, 143 ; seeks 
help and counsel of Odd-a- 
Tongue after the burning 
of Blundketil, ib. ; witnesses 
Odd-a-Tongue hallow to him- 
self the land of Ornolfsdale, 
144 ; drives all Blunketil's 
live stock away west to 
Swigniskarth, 144, 145 ; gets 
Thorkel Welt to befriend 
Herstein, Blundketil's son, 
145, 146. 

THORBIORN, son of Thiodrek 
of Bath stead, xv, xix, was 
a Gofti in Icefirth, of high 
descent, a man of might 
and injustice, i ; his deal- 

ings with Olaf Howardson, 
4-18; robs Howard of a 
whale, 9, 10 ; marries the 
sister of Guest Oddleifson 
(see note to p. 13), 13 ; his 
fight with and slaughter of 
Olaf Howardson, 14-18; his 
outrage on Howard claim- 
ing atonement for his son, 
19; his dealings with 
Howard at the Althing, 21- 
27 ; is forced by Guest Odd- 
leifson to atone for Olaf 
Howardson, 24, 25 ; smites 
Howard on the face with a 
bag containing the teeth of 
his son, 26 ; goes west to 
Vadil in his cutter to fetch 
his brother Sturla and his 
son Thiodrek, 27 ; is slain 
by Howard on coming back 
to Bathstead, 34-37 ; no 
atonement awarded for him 
at the Althing, 64. 

THORBRAND, Jjorbrandr, bro- 
ther to Biargey, 29. 

THORD, fdrSr, Gellir, son of 
Olaf Feilan, 146 ; is be- 
guiled by Gunnar Hlifarson 
to betroth in his own name 
his foster-daughter Thurid, 
Gunnar's own daughter, to 
Herstein, Blundketil's son, 
before being told that he is 
a houseless orphan, 149-151; 
whereat Thord is exceeding 
wroth, 151; but yet has 
Thurid and Herstein mar- 
ried at his house, 152, 153 ; 
he goes to Burgfirth and 
summons Arngrim the 



priest and Hen Thorir to 
Thingness-thing, 153 ; goes 
to prosecute the blood-suit 
after Blundketil at Thing- 
ness-thing, but has after 
some fighting to yield to 
Odd-a-Tongue's overwhelm- 
ing force, and appeals the 
case to the Althing, 154, 155; 
rides to the Althing, where 
he fights with Odd - a - 
Tongue, who gets the worst 
of it, and accepts a peaceful 
award of the blood-case, 

i55 i5 6 - 

THORDIS, Jjdrdis, daughter of 
Asmund the Long-hoary, 
sister to Grettir the Strong, 
wife of Glum Uspakson of 
Skridinsenni, 76. 

THORDIS, wife of Atli the 
Little of Otterdale, 51-53. 

THORDIS of Knoll (d. of 
Thiodrek), sister to Thor- 
biorn Thiodrekson, and 
mother of Vakr and Scart, 
3 ; eggs Scart to join Thor- 
biorn in the fight with Olaf 
Howardson, 16-18. 

THORGEIR, porgeirr, of Bath- 
dale, son of Haldora, comes 
to the Thing riding " from 
the east," so he must, in all 
probability, have come from 
Bathdale, Laugardal, in 
Arness-Thing, one of the 
Banded Men, 94, 97. 

THORGEIR of Withymere, 
father to Helga, the wife of 
Thorkel the son of Gunn- 
wald, 126. 

THORGERD, JjorgertSr, wife of 
Thormod of Bank, 2 ; comes 
to Bluemere for help against 
her dead husband walking 
again, 7. 

THORGERD, daughter of Vali, 
wife of Ufeig of Reeks, 


THORGILS, forgils, son of 
Gorm, duke in Sweden, and 
Thora, daughter of King 
Eric of Upsala, xviii. 

THORGILS, son of Halla, a 
kinsman of Guest Oddleif- 
son, 24. 

THORGRIM, Jjorgrimr, Dy- 
ri's son, "a wizard," 58 

THORGRIM Gagar (Dog), son 
of Liot the Sage, xiii, xiv. 

THORGRIM, son of Hardref, 
father to Liot, xiii. 

THORHALL, pdrhallr, a kins- 
man of Howard's, 3 ; helps 
Biargey, when Howard grows 
helpless from grief, to keep 
the house going, 18 foil. ; 
goes with Howard on his 
journey of revenge for Olaf, 
31-39 ; fights with the Dyra- 
firthers, 61, 62; settles in 
Thorhallsdale in Eyiafirth, 

THORIR, J>6rir. See Hen 

THORIR the Stamper, J?6rir 
Hlammandi, 125. 

THORIR Thorbrandson, one 
of Howard's band of re- 
venge, 29, 32, 39, 41, 61, 
62 ; banished the land dur- 


The Saga Library. 

ing the lifetime of Thorarin, 
priest of Dyrafirth, 64. 

THORKEL, forkell, son of 
Blundketil, by Ari stated to 
have been burnt in the house 
of Ornolfsdale instead of 
Blundketil himself, a state- 
ment also recorded in other 
old authorities, xxxii, n. 

THORKEL of Eiderisle, " the 
Lawman of those of Ice- 
firth," 2. 

THORKEL, son of Grim Kogr, 
the slayer of Liot the Sage 
(Landnama, pp. 145-147), 

THORKEL, son of Gunnwald 
(see note to p. 126, 1. n), 
married to Helga, the 
daughter of Thorgeir of 
Withy mere, 126. 

THORKEL WELT, J>orkell Tref- 
ill, son of Red Biorn, dwelt 
at Swigniskarth, 126; be- 
friends Herstein, Blund- 
ketil's son, after the burning 
of his father, 145, 146 ; forces 
Gunnar, son of Hlifar, not 
knowing that Herstein 
Blundketilson is a homeless 
orphan, to promise him his 
daughter Thurid in marriage, 
146-148; gathers forces 
to back Thord Gellir in the 
blood-suit at Thingness- 
Thing, 155, 156. 

THORLEIF, forleifr, son of 
Eyvind Knee, xvi. 

THORMOD, pormd'Sr, of Bank, 
supposed to be a shape- 
changer, 2 ; walks again, 

and is laid by Olaf Howard- 
son, 7-1 1. 

THORMOD Coalbrowscald, son 
of Bersi, xvi, and note i. 

THOROD, }>6roddr, son of 
Odd-a-Tongue, 125 ; woos 
and finally marries Jofrid, 
the daughter of Gunnar, son 
of Hlifar, 159-63; the same 
year he went abroad to ran- 
som his brother Thorwald, 
but never returned back to 
Iceland, 163. 

THOROLF Fox, J>6r61fr Refr, 
brother to Alf-a- Dales, killed 
in the fight at Thrallstream- 
on-Whitewater, 154. 

THORSTEIN, porsteinn, son of 
Egil of Burg, the second 
husband of Jofrid, the 
daughter of Gunnar, 163. 

THORSTEIN, " kinsman of 
Thorir Hound," a friend of 
Odd Ufeigson's at the court 
of King Harold " HarS- 
rafti," xxvi ; helps Odd 
out of a smuggling scrape, 
170-174; receives in return 
for his services a set of stal- 
lions from Odd, 174, 175; 
loses Harold's favour, 175. 

THORSTEIN, son of Thorbiorn 
of Ere, probably the same 
as the Landnama calls Thor- 
kel, son of Grim Kogr, slays 
Liot of Redsand, and joins 
Howard's band at Steinthor 
of Ere's, 46-49, 61, 62 ; 
banished the land for the 
lifetime of Thorarin, the 
priest of Dyrafirth, 64. 



THORUNN, J><5runn, daughter 
of Gunnar Hlifarson, xxxii. 
(See Thurid.) 

THORWALD, porvaldr, Oddson. 
(See Thorwald, son of Odd- 

THORWALD, son of Odd-a- 
Tongue, 125 ; comes from 
a foreign voyage to North- 
tongue, and meeting Hen 
Thorir there, takes up his 
case against Blundketil, 137- 
140; goes to summon Blund- 
ketil, 140-142; burns Blund- 
ketil in his own house, 142, 
143 ; is banished the country 
for three years, 158 ; was 
taken captive and enslaved 
in Scotland, ib. 

THURID Bedsow, JmrftSr nim- 
gylta, wife of Eyvind Knee, 

THURID, daughter of Gunnar 
son of Hlifar, and foster- 
child of Thord Gellir's, 
146 ; by Ari she is called 
Thorunn, xxxii, so also in 
some other old records. 

THURID, daughter of Odd-a- 
Tongue, 125. 

TORFI, son of Valbrand, mar- 
ried Thurid, daughter of 
Odd-a-Tongue, 125, 161. 

TORFI Valbrandson, one of 
Howard's band of revenge, 
28, 32 ; fights with Sturla 
Thiodrekson, and slays him, 
36-38 ; his deeds at Moon- 
berg, 39-41 ; at Otterdale, 
59-62 ; banished the land 
as long as Thorarin, the 

priest of Dyrafirth, should 
live, 64. 

UFEIG, Ufeigr, of the Skards, 
son of Jarngerd, Ufeig of 
Reeks' great - grandfather, 


UFEIG, son of Skidi, probably 
of the so-called " Skidung- 
kin," descendants of two 
grandsons of Skidi the Old, 
Eihf Eagle and Thorkel 
Vingnir, who settled land in 
Hunavatns-Thing, dwelt at 
Reeks in Midfirth, and was 
a " thingman " of Styrmir 
of Asgierswater, 73 ; has a 
son Odd whom he dislikes, 
74 ; saves by bribery the case 
against Uspak which Odd 
had lost, 89-93; his talk 
with Odd on the plot of the 
Banded Men, 95 ; his ad- 
vice to Odd how to elude 
the Banded Men, 96 ; goes 
with Styrmir the GoSi to 
the Thing, 96; his means 
of undoing the plot of the 
Banded Men, 97-108; gets 
the consent of the Banded 
Men to two of their com- 
pany, whom he himself se- 
lects, judging Odd's case, 
109; rates the Banded Men 
all round, and selects as 
judges Egil and Gellir, whom 
he had already bribed, no- 
112; sings an exulting song 
in memory of his victory 
over the Banded Ones, 1 16. 


The Saga Library. 

ULVAR, Ulfarr, son of Wolf 
of Fitiar, father to Onund 
Broadbeard, 125, n. 

USPAK, Uspakr, son of Glum 
Uspakson of Skridinsenni 
and Thordis, the sister of 
Grettir the Strong, "ill to 
deal with and masterful," 
ferried wares between the 
Strands and the North- 
country, 76 ; craves Odd to 
take him in, 76, 77 ; he be- 
comes the trusted foreman 
of Odd's house, 77-80; he 
overtakes Odd's Go'SorS 
in his absence abroad, 79 ; 
marries Swala of Swalastead, 
80, 8 1 ; holds the GoSorS 
in Odd's despite till he is 
forced to give it up, 81, 
82 ; leaves Mel at enmity 
with Odd, 82; is suspected 
and found guilty of sheep- 
stealing, 83-85 ; slays Vali, 
86 ; is summoned to the 
Althing by Odd, and is first 
acquitted and afterwards 
found guilty, 87-93 > ne dis- 
appears for a long time till 
he returns to murder Swala's 
second husband, and to 
maim and kill the cattle of 
his enemy, Bergthor of 
Bodvarsknolls, and the 
stallions of Odd ; he is 
mortally wounded by Mar's 
half - witted brother, and 
found long after dead in a 
cave, 120, 121. 

VAKR, son of Thordis the sister 

of Thorbiorn Thiodrekson, 
2 ; his slanderous behaviour 
to Olaf Howardson, 4-7 ; 
takes part in the slaughter 
of Olaf Howardson, 14-18; 
his death, 34, 35 ; no atone- 
ment awarded for him at 
the Althing, 64. 

VALBRAND, Valbrandr, son of 
Eyvind Knee, and father to 
Biargey, xvi. 

VALBRAND, brother to Biargey, 
28, 31, 32. 

VALBRAND, son of Valthiof, 
father to Torfi, 125. 

VALI, a kinsman of Ufeig of 
Reeks, and fostered in his 
house, 73, 74, 76, 78; pro- 
poses to find out for Odd 
of Mel who has stolen his 
missing wethers, 83 ; brings 
the theft home to Uspak, 
84, 85 ; slain by Uspak, 

VALI, father to Thorgerd, the 
wife of Ufeig of Reeks, 

VALTHIOF, ValJ)j6fr, the Old, 

son of Orlyg, a settler, 125. 
VEBIORN Sygnakappi, xvi. 
VEDIS, Ve"dfs, sister to Vebiorn 

Sygnakappi, married to 

Grimolf, the son of Olaf 

Evenpate, xvii. 
VIDFARI, Vfftfari, " a gangrel 

man," and akin to Hen 

Thorir, 137. 

WOLF the Crow, Ulfr krdka, 


WOLF the Marshal, Ulfr Stal- 
lari, son of Ospak Osvifson, 
xiii, xxi, xxii. 


WOLF of Fitiar, Ulfr af Fit- 
jum, son of Thorir the 
Stamper, 125. 


AODIR, AgSir, a district of 
south-western Norway, xvi. 

AKRANESS, Akranes, the south- 
westernmost promontory of 
the Burgfirth bailiwick, 

staftir, the home of Asbrand, 
brother to Biargey, 29. 

ASGEIRSWATER, Asgeirsd, a 
farmstead in Willowdale in 
Hunavatns-Thing, the home 
of Styrmir the priest, 73. 

BANK, Bakki, the abode of 
Thormod, the shape-chan- 
ger, now not to be found 
within the neighbourhood 
of Bluemere or Bathstead, 

2, 3- 

BARDSTRAND, BarSastrond, a 
seaboard countryside on 
the northern side of Broad- 
firth, 13, 67. 

BATHDALE, Laugardalr. 

1. A valley in the penin- 
sula between Skatefirth and 
Narrowbay, in Icefirth, xvi, 

2. A valley due east of 
the Thing-meads, in the 

upper part of Araess-Thing, 


BATHSTEAD, Laugabol, the 
house of Thorbiorn Thiod- 
rekson, situate in Bathdale, a 
still standing farmstead, but 
not on the old site, lying 
within the parish of Ogur, 

! 2 , 7, !3> 33, 34- 

BITRA, alias BitrufjorSr, the 
southernmost bay in the 
coast-range of the bailiwick 
of Strandir, 75, 76. 

BLUEMERE, the homestead of 
Howard the Halt, now 
called Blam^rar, a farmstead 
in the parish of Ogur in the 
bailiwick of Icefirth, Isa- 
fjarSars^sla, xvii, i. 

heifti, seems to be a name 
" for the whole wood-grown 
continuous tract of lava 
which surrounds the Thing- 
mead-water by north, west, 
and south, a very descrip- 
tive name on account of the 
deeply blue-green birch 
copse which is spread over 
the whole of the dark 
ground" (Kalund), 96. 


The Saga Library. 

BLUNDWATER, Blundsvatn, a 
lake, 126. 

BOARDERE, BorSeyrr, mod. 
Borfteyri, a harbour, and 
now a growing trading sta- 
tion on the northern side 
of Ramfirth, 75. 

hdlar, a farmstead in the 
commune called Thwart- 
water-rape, pverarhreppr, in 
western Hunavatns-Thing, 
1 20. 

BRENT, Brekka, a homestead 
in the countryside of In- 
gialdsand, xiii. 

BROADFIRTH, BrerSifjor^Sr, the 
largest bay in Iceland, 106, 



1. The seat of Odd-a- 
Tongue, situate in the 
northernmost Reekdale, 
q. v., in Burgfirth, 125, 136. 

2. The seat of Torfi Val- 
brandson, situate in the 
close neighbourhood of the 
former, 125. 

BURG, Borg, the home of Egil 
Skulison in Burgfirth, west- 
ern Iceland, 101, 106, 114, 

BURGFIRTH, BorgarfjorSr. 

1. An inlet from Faxe- 
Bay in south-western Ice- 
land, 101, 1 06, 127. 

2. The district which ex- 
tends to the river basins 
round the bay, xxxii, 125, 

BURG-KNOLLS, Borgarh611, a 
house of which the site now 
is unknown, but must have 
been near to Swalastead, 
1 20. 

DALES, Dalir, the eastern sea- 
board and river basins of 
Broadbay, xviii. 

DYRAFIRTH, DyrafjorSr, one 
of the larger firths that cut 
from north-west into the 
north-western peninsula of 
Iceland, 58, 61. 

EIDERISLE, y$ey, an island a 
short distance off the north- 
ern coast of Islefirth, 2. 

ERE, the seat of the spurious 
character, Thorbiorn, the 
father of the boys who slew 
Liot of Redsand, xv, 45. 

ERE, Eyrr, now Hallbiarnar- 
eyri, on a broad ness be- 
tween Grundarfirth and 
Kolgrafarfirth on the south 
side of Broadfirth, the seat 
of Steinthor, 21, 42, 67. 

ESJUBERG, a homestead be- 
neath the steep mountain 
Esja which forms Kjalarnes, 
facing Reykjavik to the 
north-east, 125. 

EYIAFIRTH, EyjafjortSr, the 
largest inlet on the northern 
shore of Iceland, 75. 

EYIAFORD, Eyjavaft, a ford 
across Northwater, 154. 

FINMARK, Finnmork or Mork, 
167, 170. 



FINS, Finnar, 167, 168, 170, 

FITIAR, the seat of the lords 
of the island of Stord in 
Hordaland in Norway, 125. 

GEIRSLITHE, GeirshliS, the 
abode of Geir the Wealthy, 
situate in the valley called 
" Flokadale," which lies be- 
tween the two Reekdales, 

125, n. 

GARDAR, GarSar, the name of 
the Scandinavian kingdom 
in Russia, xviii. 

GUNNARSTEAD, GunnarsstaSir, 
a homestead on the inner 
Woodstrand, q. v., the seat 
of Gunnar, the son of Hlifar, 
146, 152, 155. 

GUNNBIORN Skerries, Gunn- 
bjarnarsker, xvi. 

HAVEN, Horn, a homestead 
on the southern side of the 
bay of Burgfirth (see note 
to p. 129), 129. 

HELGIWATER, Helgavatn, " up 
from Northtongue," q. v., 
the seat of Hen Thorir, 

126, 127. 
HORSEFIRTH, Hestfjorftr, an 

inlet on the southern side 
of Icefirth, xvi. 


vorSuherSr, a wide upland 
plateau, forming the water- 
shed between north-eastern 
Burgfirth and southern 
Hrinaflo'i, 126. 


1. A home built by 
Howard the Halt on the 
northern shore of Islefirth, 
now in ruins, which still 
bear the old name, xix, 12. 

2. A house built by him 
on settling in Oxdale off 
Swarfadardale, 67. 

HWAMM, Hvammr. 

1. The seat of Helgi, 
brother of Red Biorn, situate 
in Northwaterdale, 126, 


2. The seat of Thord 
Gellir, situate at the bottom 
of Hwammfirth, an inlet 
from the south-eastern part 
of Broadfirth, 149, 151. 

ICEFIRTH, the largest bay of 
north-western Iceland, the 
scene of Howard the Halt's 
saga, i, passim. 

ICELAND, its literature, i-xii; 
republican constitution, &c., 

INGIALDSAND, a countryside 
on the western side of 
Onundarfiord in the north- 
western peninsula of Ice- 
land, xiii. 

KNOLL, Hvdll, in Icefirth, the 
home of Thordis, sister of 
Thorbiorn Thiodrekson, 
identified by Dr. KSlund 
as the now deserted place 
Ldnsholl, situated on the 
western side of Kaldal6n, 


The Saga Library. 

Cold-loch, which cuts in a 
north-easterly direction into 
the country from the inner 
part of Icefirth, 3. 
KOLLAFIRTH, KollafjorSr, the 
next firth to the northward 
from Bitra, q. v., 76. 

LOONSERE, Ldnseyri, the home 
of Thoralf, a still existing 
farmstead built on the corner 
of land formed by the waters 
of Icefirth and Kaldaldn, 
3, 13. 

LONGDALE, Langidalr, a pa- 
rallel valley to Waterdale 
to the north of it, in the 
basin of Hunafl<5i, 84. 

LONGDALE-RIVER, Langadalsa", 
the northern boundary of 
the settlement of Snaebiorn, 
in Icefirth (see map), xvii. 

MARK, short for Finmark, 
q. v. 

MEAD, Hagi, on the seaboard 
of Bardstrand, the home- 
stead of Guest Oddleifson, 


MEAD (see Thing-mead). 

MEL, now Melsta'Sr, a goodly 
house on the northern side 
of Midfirth-river, two miles 
up from the bottom of the 
bay, 75, 76, 77,81,86, 100, 
117, 174. 

MIDFIRTH, MrSfjorSr, be- 
tween Ramfirth in the west 
and Hiinaf jorSr in the east, 
the middle bay of the three 
that from Hunafldi cut in a 

duesouthernly direction into 
the land, 73, 75, 118. 

MIOLA, an island in the pro- 
vince of Helgeland, Norway, 

MIRES, M^rar, the Fens, on the 
eastern side of Faxe Bay, 
bounded by lower Burgfirth 
from south-east and south, 


MISCHIEF, Osdmi, a brook 
dividing the lands of Liot 
the Sage and Grim Kogr, 

NARROWBAY, MjdifjorSr, an 
inlet on the southern side of 
Icefirth, xvi, xvii. 

the seat of Amgrim the priest, 
situate in the countryside 
called Thwartwaterlithe, the 
northern slope of the river 
Thwartwater, one of the 
northern tributaries of the 
Whitewater of Burgfirth, 1 25, 
126, 135, 137, 153. 

NORTHWATER, NorSra, the 
largest northern tributary to 
Whitewater in Burgfirth, 
126, 154. 

dalr, the river basin of upper 
Northwater, 126, 153, 154. 

NORWAY, 67, 118, 163. 

OGRWICK, Ogrvik, a bight on 
the coast of the peninsula 
formed by the two firths, 
Skatefirth and Narrowbay, 
in Icefirth, xvi. 



ORKNEY, 118. 
ORNOLFSDALE, Orn<51fsdalr. 

1. A valley within the 
lower part of the country- 
side of Thwartwaterlithe in 
Burgfirth, within which Ari 
apparently has regarded 
Helgiwater as situate, xxxii. 

2. The homestead of 
Blundketil on Thwartwater, 
126, 142, 144, 155, 156, 
158, 160. 

OTTERDALE, Otrardalr, a 
homestead, now a parson- 
age, on the southern coast of 
upper Arnar-firth in the 
north-western peninsula of 
Iceland, 51, 57, 58, 59, 65, 

OXDALE, Oxadalr,an off- valley 
of Svarfadardale (see Ka- 
lund, ii. 99), 67. 

PLEASUREDALE, Unaftsdalr, 
the seat of the settler Olaf 
Evenpate, xvii. 

RAMFIRTH, HnitafjorSr, the 
next bay to the west of Mid- 
firth, 75, 81, 97. 

REDSAND, Rauftisandr, the 
mythical homestead of the 
equally mythical " Holm- 
gangliot," 45. 

REEKDALE, Reykjardalr. 

i. "Hinn nyrSri," now 
Reykholtsdalr, the basin of 
Reykj adalsa, Reekdale-river, 
one of the southern tribu- 
taries to the lower White- 
water, 125, 153. 

2. "Hinn sySri," the 
southernmost, now called 
Lundareykjadalr, formed by 
the river Grimsd, one of the 
southern tributaries to the 
lower Whitewater, 153. 

REEKS, Reykir, the house of 
Ufeig, son of Skidi, standing 
on the eastern side of the 
Midfirth river opposite to 
that of Mel, some two miles 
up from the sea, 73. 

REYPARMULi,a bold mountain 
formation on the left-hand 
side of the road going from 
the Thing-meads to Bath- 
dale, 97. 

ROME, pilgrimage to, xxvii. 

ROSKILDE, the old cathedral 
city of Seeland in Denmark, 

SANDERE-RIVER, Sandeyrara, 
the western boundary of the 
settlement of Olaf Evenpate 
(see map), xvii. 

SAURBY, Saurbaer, a valley in 
the Dales in western Ice- 
land, xviii. 

SEYDISFIRTH, an inlet on the 
southern side of Icefirth (see 
map), xvi. 

SIDAMULI, SfSumiili, a farm- 
stead in the countryside 
called Whitewater-side in 
Burgfirth, 119. 

SKAGAFIORD, SkagafjortSr, a 
wide bay on the northern 
coast of Iceland, xviii. 

SKANEYFELL, Skaneyjarfjall, 


The Saga Library. 

on the northern side of 
Reekdale the northernmost, 

SKARDS, SkorS, the homestead 
of Ufeig Jarngerdson, situate 
in Reykjahverfi in the pre- 
sent southern Thingeyjar- 
sy"sla, i. 

SKATEFIRTH, SkotufjorSr, an 
inlet on the southern side 
of Icefirth, xvi. 

SKORRADALE, Skorradalr, a 
valley of Burgfirth running 
parallel with Reykjardal, 2 ; 
on the south of it, 153. 

SKRIDINSENNI (see note to 
p. 76), 76. 

STAFFHOLT, Stafholt or Stafa- 
holt, the chief homestead in 
the countryside of StarTholts- 
tongue, 154. 

tungur, the tongue of land 
formed by the confluence 
of Northwater and White- 
water in Burgfirth, 154. 

STONEFORD, Steinsva'S, a ford 
on Whitewater, locality un- 
certain, 1 6 1. 

STRANDS, Strandir, short for 
Hornstrandir, the western 
seaboard of Hunafldi, 75. 

SWALASTEAD, now a deserted 
home in ruins in Willow- 
dale, 80, 81, 82, 84, 86, 


SWANFIRTH, AlptafjorSr, an 
inlet on the southern side 
of Icefirth, xvi. 

dalr, a valley on the northern 

side of Eyiafiord, towards 
the mouth of it, 67. 

SWEDEN, Svtyjo'S, xviii. 

Thorkel Welt's abode, on 
the river called Gorge- 
river, Gljufra, a northern 
tributary to the lower White- 
water, situate within the 
commune of Burg (Borgar- 
hreppr) in the bailiwick of 
the Mires, 126. 

THING-MEAD, fingvollr, the 
fields surrounded by lava 
on the northern side of 
Thing-mead Water, j?ing- 
vallavatn, in Arness-Thing, 
where, from A.D. 930 to 
1264, the Althing of re- 
publican Iceland, and from 
1264 to 1800 that of de- 
pendent Iceland, was held, 


THINGNESS, fingnes, a home- 
stead on the southern side 
of the lower White-river in 
Burgfirth, the site of the 
spring - assembly of the 
Thwartwater-Thing, fverar- 

fing, 153- 

THIOTTA, Jjjdtta, now Tjoto, 
an island in the province of 
Helgeland, Norway, 169. 

THORBRANDSTEAD, )?orbrands- 
staSir, the home of Biargey's 
brother, Thorbrand, site un- 
known, 29, 32. 

sta'Sir, a homestead in the 



countryside called White- 
water-side in Burgfirth, 119. 

fjorSr, a small bay north of 
Eyiafiord, in the present 
bailiwick of southern 
Thingeyjarsy'sla, 118. 

THORHALLSDALE, Jwhallsdalr, 
a by -valley off Swarfad- 
ardale, where Howard 
settled on returning a Chris- 
tian to Iceland from Nor- 
way, 68. 

sta^Sir, the house set up by 
Thorhall, Howard's kins- 
man, after the former's 
death in the upper part of 
Thorhallsdale, 68. 

THRALLSTREAM, prselastraumr, 
a ford of Whitewater, 154. 

arhlftS, the northern slope 
of the upper Thwartwater, 
153, 159- 

VADIL, Va'Sill, seems to refer 
to the well-known harbour 
of that name on Bardstrand, 
xiii, 27, 67. 

staftir, the home of Biargey's 
brother Valbrand, site un- 
known, 28. 

VALFELL, 119. 

WATER. (See Helgiwater.) 

WATERDALE, Vatnsdalr, one 
of the valleys running in- 
land from Hunafirth, 84. 

WATERFIRTH, VatnsfjorSr, the 
homestead of Snaebiorn at 
the top of a small inlet of 
the same name, on the 
southern side of upper Ice- 
firth, xvii. 

WATERNESS, Vatnsnes, a broad 
ness dividing Midfirth from 
Hunafirth, 74. 

WHITEWATER, Hvita, the main 
river of Burgfirth, 153, 154. 

WILLOWDALE, Viftidalr, the 
next valley to the eastward 
from Midfirth, 80. 

WITHYMERE, the seat of 
Thorgeir ofWithymere, 126. 

WOODSTRAND, Skdgarstrond, 
a countryside on the south- 
eastern side of Broadfirth, 


The Saga Library. 


Appraising goods out of one's 

house, 13 (cf. GoSi, and 

Award, "gortS;" "segja upp 

gortS," give out an award, 


Banner, "merki," borne be- 
fore a chief, in. 

BearVwarmth, "bjarnylr," 3, 
note, p. 1 8 1. 

Berth, " rdm," within a booth, 
22 (cf. House). 

Betroth (betrothal), "fastna," 
148, 150. 

Booth, see House. 

Bribes, 93-95. 

Bridal, "veizla," 118 (see 

Burning (of an enemy within 
his house, recognized as a 
form of carrying out a blood- 
feud, but always looked upon 
as an evil deed), discounten- 
anced by the noble Howard, 
39 ; urged by the base Thor- 
grim of Dyrafirth, 60 ; in- 
tended by the fierce Her- 
mund, 119; and the over- 
bearing Odd-a-Tongue, 162; 
executed in an evil hour by 
Hen Thorir and his accom- 
plices, 142-144, cf. 145. 

Bury. To be buried, where 

a wide view could be had 
over lands belonging to the 
descendants of the dead, 163. 

Cattle, maimed, 120, 121. 

Chaff, refuse of hay, "mo'S/^o. 

Chapmen, "kaupmenn," 118, 

Chest, "kista," wherein wea- 
pons are kept, 31. 

Christening, " skfrn," 68. 

Church-going, " vera 1 gongu," 

Church building, 68. 

Church timber, imported from 
Norway, 68. 

Cliff-road, "klifgata," 157. 

Contract by the outstretched 
hand, 148 (cf. Hansel). 

Cotcarle (cottager), " kotkarl," 

Crew of a merchantman quar- 
tered about the country, 

Day-meal, "dagverSr," 132. 
Death-call (from the guardian 

spirits of an old landed 

family), 119. 
Divorce, " skilnaftr," 26. 
Doom-ring, "domhringr," 91. 
Dodderer, nickname of an old 

horse, 19. 
Dower, "gora heiman," 107. 



Dreams. Ill at ease in sleep, 
" lata ilia f svefni," 59 ; Atli's 
dream, 59, 60; Herstein's 
dream, 143. 

Dress. Breeches, " braekr," 3, 
8, 37; linen breeches, "lin 
b.," 147; cape, "stakkr," 
60; "cloak, "kapa," 92, 
"mottull,"i47; cloak-hood, 
" kapu-hottr," no; cloak- 
skirt, "kapuskaut," 25, 102; 
cloth (kerchief), "knyti- 
skauti," 26 ; cowl, " stakkr," 
54; doublet, "stakkr," 52; 
fell,"feldr,"8; frock (blue), 
"blar stakkr," 37; shirt, 
"skyrta," 3, 8, 147; shoes, 
"skdr," 56; black shoes, 
"svartir skdr," of tanned 
leather, as distinguished 
from brogues of untanned 
skin, 147 ; high shoes, "upp- 
hafir s.," 32; shoe-thongs, 
" skdj)vengir," 56 ; skin, 
" feldr," 58 ; sleeve, "ermr," 
88 ; sleeve-cloak, " erma- 
kapa," 88 ; slouched hat, 
" sfthetta," 88. 

Drift-log, " rekatreY' 9. 

Drift right, "reki," 9. 

Easter tide, 114. 
Eastmen, Norwegians, 128. 
Enslaving (in Scotland), 158. 
Evensong, " aftansongr," 108. 

Feast, "veizla," 57, 66 (cf. 

Fetches, "manna hugir," in 

the shape of animals, 60. 
Fights, "bardagi." Between 

OlafandThorbiorn, 16, 17; 
Howard and Thorbiorn, 34- 
39 ; Howard and Liot of 
Moonberg, 40; Atli and 
Thorgrim of Dyrafirth, 60- 
62 ; Thord Gellir and Odd- 
a-Tongue, 154, 156 ; Her- 
stein and Hen Thorir, 158. 

Fines, "fegj61d,""fe"sekt," 113. 

Fin goods, Fin scat, 168-172. 

Fire. Hallowing for one's 
self no man's land by fire, 
144 (cf. pref. xliv-xlvi). 

Fishing. Biargey's business 
for the support of her house, 
1 8, 19, 27; profitable North- 
land industry, 74; fisher- 
men, 74; fishing gear, "veftS- 
arfaeri," 74; fishing line, 

Food. Cheese, " ostr," 5 1 ; 
dried fish, "skrertS," 51; 
flesh meat of every kind, 
"sldtr allskonar," 51. 

Foreshore, "eyrr," 15. 

Forked cudgel, "forkr," used 
for weapon, 16. 

Fostering of a chiefs child a 
coveted privilege by the 
lower sort, 127 ; fosterer, 
32; foster-father, 127; fos- 
ter-son, 135. 

Games. Skin-play, " skinn 
leikr,"55 ; ball-play, "knatt- 
leikr," 55 ; wrestling, 56 ; 
pairing one man with an- 
other (inter poculd), 115. 

Gangrel man, " reikunar- 
ma'Sr," 137. 

Garth, "garEr," the wall round 


The Saga Library. 

the home-mead, 19; the 
yard within which the hay- 
stacks stood, = " heygarSr," 

5 2 - 
Ghost, hauntings, 7-11 (cf. 


Gifts. Tokens, not only of 
personal friendship, but also 
of social distinction, 25, 
140 ; in golden rings, 49, 
66 ; in oxen, " yxn," 66, 
119; in shields, 66; in 
swords, 66 ; in war array, 
"hervdpn," 66; in horses, 

Go^i, priest, expected to help 
his liege-folk against ghosts, 
7 ; claims the right of ap- 
praising foreign imports, 
128; forbids all intercourse 
with merchants till his price- 
list (tax) is out, 128; is 
expected to set right the 
grievances of his "Thing- 
men," 135; safeguards those 
whose acts of revenge have 
brought them into trouble, 
43 (cf. pref. xxviii-xxx). 

Guilty men all go wheresoever 
one goes, 5 2 ; fully guilty : 
exiled the country for ever, 
and fined in mangild (were- 
gild) besides, 152. 

Hansel, " handsala," the cus- 
tomary sign manual to a 
binding contract in an il- 
literate age, no ; h. money 
and lawsuits, 139; h. fines 
(guaranty that fines shall 
be paid), no; h. voiding 

(dropping) of a case, no 
(cf. Take hands). 

Haven, " horn," artificially 
made, 33. 

Hay, "ta3a,"32, 134; raking 
up of, 32 ; forced sale of in 
hard times, 133 ; hay-loads 
bound up in ropes, 135 ; 
hayharvest (failure of), 130; 
haystack, " heykleggi," 52. 

Hides, " hii'Sir," used for pro- 
tection of goods, 135. 

Hill of Laws, "logberg," 93, 

Holmgang, "single fight" (cf. 
Holmgang-Liot), 45. 

Home-man, " heimama'Sr," a 
free servant, his business, 
2-4, 50; did housecarles' 
service (see Housecarle). 

Home-mead, "tun," "tofcu- 
vollr," "vollr," 9, 28, 32, 
52, 60, 145, 162. 

Horses, one householder pos- 
sessed of 1 60, 131 ; shipped 
abroad, 174; ice-horses, 
" klakahross," left to shift 
for themselves in all weathers 
in winter, 114. 

Hospitality shown to foreign- 
ers, 129; the guest is bid- 
den welcome, 145 ; bidden 
come to meat, 146; the 
honoured guest sits on the 
dai's, 138 ; or on the bench 
opposite to that whereon 
the master is seated, 49, 
50; he seats his followers 
in order on either side of 
himself, 44 ; the guests' 
clothes and weapons are 



taken care of, 44 ; dry 
clothes are provided for 
them, 44 ; goodly cheer and 
entertainment given, 45 ; 
at feasts guests are mar- 
shalled by the master to 
their seats, 152 ; an unwel- 
come guest is left to wander 
about the floor, 138; it told 
much in a man's favour to 
" grudge meat to no man," 
73> 99 > while the meat- 
begrudger, " matsinkr," was 
despised, 115. 

House, its various kinds and 
appointments. Empty tofts, 
ruins of abandoned settle- 
ments, 12 ; earth-house, an 
underground safety passage 
from a house, 38, 39 ; out- 
bower, or storehouse, "uti- 
bur," 39, 5 1, 5 2,5 4, 1 44; byre, 
cowstall, " fjos," 120, 144; 
stithy, "smrSja,"i56; booth 
(a house without roof, and 
tilted over for temporary 
use), 21-24, 26, 90, 93, 94, 
103, 117; booth door, 97; 
booth lane, " btfiSarsund," 
88; sheepfolds, see Sheep. 
Dwelling house proper : hall, 
"skali," "stofa," 6, 8, 39, 
81, 82, 120, 133; sleeping 
chamber, bed - chamber, 
"hvilugdlf," 38, 40 ; women's 
bower, " stofa," 40 ; house 
wall, "hiisveggr," 39, 60; 
gable, "gafl," gable wain- 
scot, "bjorr," 7; door by 
the gable end, 8 ; two doors 
in front of a hall (by either 

gable, namely, men's door, 
" karldyr," and women's 
door, " kvendyr "), 39 ; 
doors smitten on by visitors 
to the house, 4, 14, 120, 
132, 146; self-shutting door, 
wicket, " skellihurS," 4 ; 
door ring, 147 ; door ledge, 
"oki,"4; door bolted, 132 ; 
window, " gluggr," 3 1 ; win- 
dow in a door, 161 ; house 
dim inside even in midday, 
86; light, "Ijos," hung up 
in the hall, 8, 40 ; benches 
on either side of the house, 
49, 152; dai's, "pallr" (a 
raised seat at the end of a 
hall), 6, 138, 152; table, 
"borS," 4, 42 ; beds, 54,. 
55, 120; beds arranged in 
a storehouse, 51, 57; shut 
bed, "lokrekkja," 38; gable- 
end bed, " stafnrekkja," 8. 

Housecarle, servant labourer, 

Householder, " buma'Sr," 98. 

Housekeeping, bounteous, 
"rausn," 51. 

Huckstering in poultry and 
sundry wares, 126. 

Hundred, "hundraS" = 120 
ells of wadmal, 46. 

Implements. Pikestaff, "brodd- 
stafr," 88; rake, "hrifa," 
32; staff, "stafr," 26; seal- 
nets, "not," 28, 32 ; switch, 
" svigi," 159; trout-nets, 
"net," 29; turf-axe, -cutter, 
hnifr," 1 20. 


The Saga Library. 

Imports : malt and corn, 116 ; 
taxing or appraising of, 127 
(cf. pref. xxix, xxx). 

Judicial venality, 92, 93. 

Landlord and tenants, 130- 


Law quibbles, 88, 89. 
Leets, " leiftir." Rangar leet, 

116; Hwamm's leet, 119 

(cf. preface and Thing). 
Lawman, "logma^Sr," 2, 9, 


Manslaughter (owned to or de- 
clared by the doer as his 
deed, a legal duty, as else it 
was murder), 121. 

Market for imported goods, 

Match (marriage), 105, 150. 

Meatluck, a mocking name 
for a meat vessel, 115. 

Money out at interest, i, 126; 
buried and never found 
again, 119 (cf. Silver). 

Oaths by judges, 92 ; by con- 
federates to a plot, 94, 102. 

Outlawry, "sektir," 102, 139 
(cf. Guilty). 

Outrage on a dead man, 17 
(cf. 26), 37. 

Poetical periphrases : 
Arrows, handmaidens (iron.), 


Axe, black-shanks, "svart- 
leggjur" (sooty-handled), 

Blood, corpse sea, 31 ; 
sword dew, 37. 

Fight, brunt of bucklers, 30 ; 
edge play, 41 ; spear play, 
storm, 63 ; steel meeting, 
30 ; war gale, 44. 

Gold, firth's sun, 43. 

Head, land of hats (head = 
reason, wits), 116. 

Man, dealer of the firth's 
sun (liberal of gold), 43 ; 
fir-stems'of the fight sun 
(shield-bearers), 50 ; folk 
of Valkyr's fire, 44 ; grove 
of metal (fully armed), 
1 1 6 ; lords of the blood- 
wolf, 44 ; lords of loud 
shields' clashing, 100 ; 
lords of sea-king's stallion, 
56 ; people's waster, 42 ; 
shipdweller, lord, 30, 42 ; 
spear-heeder, 44. 

Mew, high screaming, hail- 
besmitten bird of slaugh- 
ter, 31. 

Odin, lord of hanged men, 

Raven, hawk of slaughter, 
3 1 ; blood-fowl, Odin's 
fowl, 33. 

Shield, fight sun, 50. 

Ship, sea-horse, xxiii; sea- 
king's stallion, 56. 

Sword, blood ice (cold steel), 
41 ; blood wolf, 44 ; Val- 
kyr's fire, 44 ; war-sheen, 

Wave, Gylvi's garth, 56. 
Priest, Christian, fetched to a 

dying man, 119. 
Priest, "gofti," "go'SorSs- 



ma^r," 58, 80 (cf. preface). 
Priests mentioned : Arngrim 
of Northtongue ; Egil Skuli- 
son ; Gellir Thorkelson ; 
Guest Oddleifson ; Her- 
mund Illugison ; Jarnskeggi 
Einarson ; Odd-a-Tongue ; 
OddUfeigson; Skeggbroddi 
Biarnson ; Snorri " the 
priest"; Steinthor of Ere]; 
Styrmir of Asgeirswater ; 
Thorarin, Longdale priest; 
Thorbiorn Thiodrekson ; 
Thord Gellir; Thorgeir Hal- 

Priesthood, "goSorS," 77 
(cf. Rule over folk) ; had 
in commission, 79-82. 

Procedure (legal) : days of 
summoning, 86 ; case pre- 
pared for the Althing, 87 ; 
neighbours summoned from 
home in a blood-suit, 87 ; 
prosecution in opened court, 
87 ; a manslaughter case 
voided because a sum- 
moned -from -home neigh- 
bour having died, the plain- 
tiff summoned from home 
another in his stead, so that 
from home were summoned 
ten instead of nine neigh- 
bours, the proper way of 
filling the vacancy being to 
summon the wanting neigh- 
bour at the Althing, 87 ; 
self-doom (self-award), 102, 
109, no, 139; amicable 
settlement, " peace," "saett- 
ir," 63; umpiredom, "gerS" 
(cf. Award), 63, 64 ; voiding 

(dropping) of a case, no; 
summing up a case, 120; 
cases defeated at the Varying 
laid to the Althing, 154. 
Purse, "sj6Br," 90, 92, 96, 

101, 102. 

Rings (scraps of), "bauga- 
brot," bad payment, 114. 

Ring, "hringr," " hvirfing," 
circle formed by bystanders 
to witness a legal act, 21, 25, 
26, no. 

Rule (a goal's) over folk, 
" mannaforraSS," 13, 104. 

Season of failure of crops with 
a hard winter following, 1 30- 
133 ; seasons of the year, 
130-133, 188-190. 

Sheep, " feY' ingathering of in 
autumn, 78, 80, 83, 121 ; 
folding in autumn, 4, 5 ; 
folds, "fjarhus," 10; driving 
to winter pastures, 145, 146; 
feeding at stall, 146; shep- 
herding, 14; sheep-tending, 
2, 10, 145 ; sheep-drover, 
15 ; sheep-stealing, 83-85 ; 
sheep-walks, 4, 5, 6, 181 ; 
wethers, " geldingar," 4 ; 
ewes with sucklings, "lamb- 
aer," 116; winterfold for 
the grown-up hardy wethers, 


Ship, 2 7 ; merchant ship, ship 
of burden, "knorr," 75, 79, 
96, 97, 118, 127; laid up 
for the winter, 130 ; boat, 
"batr," 14, 15, 33, 52; six- 
oared boat, " sexaerr batr," 


The Saga Library. 

31 ; boat-house, "hurSa- 
naust," 34, 35, 38 ; running 
out a boat, 52 ; cutter, 

"skiita,"27, 34, 38, 41, 5 2 < 535 
ship's lading, cargo, "ahofn," 
75 ; carried on back of 120 
horses, 129. (If each horse 
carried 200 Ibs. weight, 
which is not heavy for a 
short journey, then Master 
Erne's cargo would have 
weighed 24,000 Ibs., or, 
roughly speaking, eleven 
tons. This is a gauge of the 
burden of his ship which, 
probably, is not very far 
from the truth.) 

Silver, " silfr," 96; the legal 
tender, 134; the best that 
might be, 102 ; evil silver, 
"uvandatf fe," 113; thir- 
teen ounces of silver, 113, 

Slaves : thrall, "J>raell," 38, 56, 

149, 154- 

Slips or ship runners, 34, 36. 

Stallions, " stoft-hross," 150. 

Stone : to set one's foot on a 
stone in pronouncing a 
solemn vow, 152 (cf. 190- 

Summon (for legal business), 

" kveSja," " stefna," 13, 95, 

140, 141, 153. 
Surety, no, 132. 
Swimming feats, n, 35, 36, 


Take hands, " takast i 
hendr," to avow consent, 

Tenants made to pay their 
rents in hay when hay crops 
fail, 130. 

Tent, used by the daughter of 
the house as a summer- 
house, 159. 

Thing, a hallowed legal as- 
sembly, i. Althing, 22, 
63, 64, 115 ; riding to the 
Althing, 13, 20, 56, 57, 58, 
79, 96, 97; with 300 men, 
57, 156; riding from the 
Althing, 95, 117; peace of 
the Althing guarded by force, 
155, 156; secured by public 
proclamation, 156. 2. Var- 
ying, spring court, at Thing- 
ness, 153 ; a criminal case, 
there defeated by force, laid 
to the Althing, 154. 3. 
Leet, "lei," hallowed by 
a deputy Gofti, 80, 82 ; 
priesthood in commission to 
be restored to the Gofti at 
Leets or Things, 81. 

Thingman, " Jnngma'Sr," a 
Gobi's liegeman, 24, 73, 77, 

Trading abroad, 75. 

Transport of goods along the 
coasts, 75, 76; transport 
ship, ferry, 75. 

Treatment of prisoners : shav- 
ing their hair, 62 ; polling 
them, "gora )>eim koll," 
62 ; cut off their ears, 62. 

Trolls = fiends, "troll," 115. 

Viking cruise, " hernaftr," 67. 
Vixen, " refkeila," 59. 
Vows, 152 (cf. 190-193). 



Wadmal, homespun, an ell of 
which formed the standard 
of currency in all commer- 
cial transactions, 74. 

Wainload, "hlass," 161. 

Warflame, " Gunnlogi," name 
of Thorbiorn's sword, 14, 1 6, 

33, 35, 37, 3 8 - 

Water-hatches, "stiflur," 46. 

Water-meadow, " veitiengi," 

Weapons (cf. Poetical peri- 
phrases) hung up in sleeping 
places, 40, 57 ; carried on 
the person on leaving the 
house, 146. Weapons of 
attack: arrow, 141; axe, 
"ox," 6, 8, 14, 1 6, 17, 33, 
36, 82 ; hand-axe, 47 ; pole- 
axe, 47 ; bo!t, " kdlfr," 60; 
bow, "bogi," 141, 161 ; 
glave, "skalm," 120; sax, 
120; spear, "spjot,"3i, 35, 
39; sword, "sver^," 10, 60, 
61,62,147. Weapons of de- 
fence : byrny, coat of mail, 
" brynja," 31, 44, 60 ; helm, 
"hjalmr," 31, 35, 44]; shield, 
"skjoldr," 35, 114, 157; 
steel-hoods, "stalhiifur,"35. 

Wedding, bridal, feast, "rsttS," 
"veizla," "brullaup,""bo," 
13, 117, 118, 151, 152, 163. 

Weregild, mangild, atone- 
ment, manfine, 19, 25, 63, 
64 ; for a thrall, 149. 

Whale, " hvalr," driven ashore, 
9 ; whale-ribs used for ship 
rollers or slips, 34, 36. 

Whistling, a sign for people 
lying in ambush, 158. 

Wind blowing one way in 
shore, another out in the 
open, 1 1 8. 

Winter-fold (see under Sheep) . 

Withershins, to go, an act 
of magic significance, 144. 

Wizard dealing in spells, 58, 
61 (cf. 143). 

Wolf, "iilfr,"59. 

Woman. A married woman's 
right over the goods of the 
house, 53 ; woman wedded 
to a man for his wealth's 
sake, 5 1 ; woman betroths 
herself on her nearest of 
kin refusing to do so, 

Woo, wooing, wooer, 13, 80, 
104,105, 147,148, 150,160; 
private wooing looked upon 
with disfavour, 159, 160. 

Wood, "skdgr," 142, 157. 

Yule-tide, 114. 



Los Angeles 
This book is DUE on the last date stamped below 

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APR 4 1974 

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DEC 71977 

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